The Claremont Colleges boast stellar academics, beautiful campuses and a unique consortium that sets them apart from the many liberal arts colleges across the country. With these benefits comes, of course, the ensuing rivalry between the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer athletic programs.
Unlike any other rivalry in the country, the competitive nature of this matchup is especially evident on the basketball court as the enclosed space and loud fans amplify the cheers to exhilarating levels.
This energy reverberated across campus Feb. 18 as the P-P Sagehens (6-17, 5-9 SCIAC) took on the CMS Athenas (21-3, 15-0 SCIAC) at Harvey Mudd College’s Ronald and Maxine Linde Activities Center. Although the Athenas pulled away to win 66-57, both sides continue to relish the unique opportunity that is the Sixth Street Rivalry.
The Sagehens and Athenas met for their first matchup of the season Jan. 24, with the CMS women earning a relatively easy 71-41 win over the Hens in their home coop. After this difficult loss, the Hens quickly set to work improving for the next game against CMS.
“We were most disappointed by our lack of effort in the second half,” forward McKenna VanderKley PZ ’17 said. “We were only down six, but we stopped doing the little things. I would have liked to see us play a more consistent game for all 40 minutes.”
For the Athenas, who remain undefeated in SCIAC play, the first win against the Hens confirmed the success of their current style of play.
“In every game we focus on playing Athena basketball,” guard Kim Scamman CM ’15 said. “We play to the best of our abilities and put it all out on the floor no matter who the opponent is.”
While both teams had to focus on other opponents during the three weeks between their next face off, their consortium opponent consistently stayed in the back of their minds and at the forefront of their practice plans. The Athenas believed that defense would be the key to winning the next game.
“We definitely focused more on defense,” Scamman said. “P-P has strong post players, so our number one goal is being able to stop them.”
The Hens also made defense a priority, but for a different reason than their foes.
“To prepare for CMS and their driving offense, we have been practicing a new triangle defense with three bigs rotating around the lane,” VanderKley said.
No matter their game plans, both teams came ready to compete in one of their biggest games of the year.
“The general atmosphere is pretty competitive and intense,” Scamman said. “As a senior, I just really try to enjoy every game I play since I know this is my last year. It’s really just appreciating the competitiveness of the rivalry and just having fun with it.”
For VanderKley and her fellow Sagehens, this was also a game of redemption.
“As an athlete, I am excited for the game and for us to play our hardest,” VanderKley said. “We simply have nothing to lose.”
From the tip off, the Athenas were able to jump to a quick lead over the visitors. In a crowded Linde Activities Center, the CMS women extended the lead to 34-22 going in to the half after a last-second three-pointer from center Kailee Severt CM ’18.
However, the Hens were not finished. P-P made a run at CMS with just over a minute left, closing the lead to six after a three-pointer by guard Alaina Woo PO ’17 and two free throws by forward Basha Brulee-Wills PZ ’17. Nonetheless, the Athenas were able to hold the lead with key free throws by Scamman and forward Kris Brackmann CM ‘17.
Brackmann and Scamman led the Athenas to victory with 16 and 12 points, respectively. The Hens were led by Brulee-Wills, who secured a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Amelia Hummel PZ ’16 and Woo both contributed 12 points.
Despite the tough loss, the Hens still have high hopes for the remainder of the season.
“As a team, our goal is to win out,” VanderKley said. “The teams we play are beatable and we plan on again leaving everything we have on the floor during those last games.”
As for the Athenas, the team has strong hopes of continuing their season with a SCIAC championship but also keeping their energy high.
“As a team, we just have to keep our enthusiasm up,” Scamman said. “We are getting to the last few weeks of possibly playing, and having started in October, the exhaustion vibe is definitely setting in. Being undefeated in conference would be an amazing achievement; however, we have a tough game against Cal Lu on Saturday, so we will see.”