As Kim Scamman CM ’15 dribbles up the court, she analyzes the opposing defense, searching for a crease that she can exploit. Scamman pushes the pace and attacks the heart of the defense, drawing multiple defenders toward her, all hoping to cut off her path to the rim. However, this was exactly as she planned it. Scamman whips the ball out to the three-point line where her teammate Kyra Ray SC ’14 is planted, surrounded by a bubble of space. Ray catches the ball, rises up and calmly sinks a three. This was a common sight throughout the Athenas’ first two games this season, and there is no indication that it will let up any time soon.
“Kyra is great at finding the open windows,” Scamman said. “She knows where I’m looking to pass it out, and she’s always there.”
In the Athenas’ first exhibition game against Dixie State University on Friday, Oct. 31, Ray knocked down four three-pointers and Scamman led the team with 18 points to help the team to a comfortable 65-52 victory.
The Athenas were able to maintain this momentum in their first regular season game, defeating Pacific Lutheran University by a score of 63-44. In the game, Scamman once again demonstrated her scoring acumen in tagging on 12 points, and center Kailee Severt CM ’18 came off the bench to score 12 points as well in the first regular season game of her career.
“We have new freshmen who are great, and we have a ton of sophomores who are one year older and wiser and more confident, so we have even more chemistry since everyone’s played together for a year,” Scamman said.
After defeating Chapman in the SCIAC championship game last year, CMS traveled to Indiana where they were defeated by DePauw University in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But this year, after losing only two starters, the team is ready to take the next step.
“We don’t talk so much about winning and losing, but rather wanting to be our best and being our best everyday,” head coach Kristen Dowling said. “We just want to continue to get better. We focus on the culture, and the process and winning is a byproduct of that.”
This year, depth and chemistry are two of the team’s strengths, with every starter complementing each other perfectly. Scamman, the team’s leading scorer last year, is incredibly quick and adept at driving to the rim to sink a layup, draw a foul or kick it out. Ray and guard Kris Brackmann CM ’17 are both excellent shooters and scorers who can capitalize on the opportunities Scamman provides. Forward Mara Falahee SC ’16 is a great hustler and rebounder, and while she may not receive the glory of scoring, she has an invaluable role on the team. Center Claire Donnelly CM ’17, who rounds out the starting five, has mastered the art of the low post move.
“The strength of our team is depth; we have lots of people who can step in at any position and be scoring threats,” Dowling said. “After the PLU game, the coach came up to me and said ‘We don’t know how to stop you. If we stop your guards, your posts go off and if we stop your posts, your guards go off.’ So we have a great team overall.”
While each of the 17 Athenas on the roster is talented enough to make an impact, this year the CMS offense will run through Scamman, who was third in SCIAC last year with 15.6 points per game. Scamman’s quickness makes her a tough force that challenges any defense to stop her, often leading to a plethora of trips to the free throw line or easy buckets for teammates.
“I’m more of a scoring point guard, so if the defense is not helping on me then I know that I’ve got a good chance at the basket,” Scamman said. “If the team knows that I’m a driver then they’ll have help on me, but that’s even better because it means I can find my teammate for an open shot and I know they’re going to hit that. My role is just to play catered to what the defense does.”
Overall, the core tenants of Athena basketball include hustling, rebounding, intense defending and an offense that stems from that defense.
“Our practices are catered to our defense, and our scoring comes from our work on defense,” Scamman explained. “We just want to play Athena basketball, which means pressuring the ball, being smart, taking good shots and overall being a good teammate.”
Two more strengths of the team include great chemistry and depth, which are products of the two big underclassmen classes that Dowling has recruited.
“Last year we had great chemistry, and it got better as the season went on, and this year, we think it will continue to get better every game,” Dowling commented. “Our women play really hard on the defensive end and show tremendous effort. We get great stops and get steals out of that. So we say that defense is our best offense.”
The Athenas will next put these strategies into practice on the team’s trip to Wheaton, Ill., to play two games against Wittenberg University and Wheaton College.