Athenas Hoops Hopes Fresh Faces Will Bring Strong Season

Maezelle Millan CM ’21 avoids a La Sierra opponent in their game on Nov. 29, which the Athenas lost 65-62. (Photo courtesy of Alicia Tsai)

As the Claremont-Mudd -Scripps women’s basketball team approaches its conference schedule, it stands 3-2.

The team opened up with a win at Pacific Lutheran on Nov. 17 (63-57), then fell in a close 69-65 loss to University of Puget Sound the next day. The Athenas quickly rebounded in wins over Case Western Reserve on Nov. 24 (78-58), and Ithaca on Nov. 25 (74-68). Then they suffered their second loss in a close game against La Sierra on Nov. 29 (65-62).

With the first SCIAC games just around the corner, captain Corinne Bogle CM ’18 is optimistic.

“I’m pleased with where we’re at,” Bogle said. “We’re a really young team but everyone’s playing very well. It’s exciting that everybody’s super eager to play and do their best.”

Eleven of the 15 spots on the roster are filled by first- and second-years. While many teams flounder under such circumstances, Boyle thinks this might actually be be a critical element to their success.

“We lost a lot of seniors last year. Four of our five starters were seniors so we knew that we had to fill in the gaps big time,” Bogle said. “Because of this, I think everyone this year had the goal of coming together and making sure there was no drop off from the skill level set by the seniors that were here last year.”

Lia Gagliuso CM ’20 echoed her captain’s thoughts.

“Learning is a huge part of this year, and that’s both a challenge and a benefit to our team,” she said. “On one hand, learning a new team takes time, but on the other, it brings new aspects and strengths. I definitely think our captains and upperclassmen have set a standard that all our hard work in practice pays off in games.”

Players said the new faces not only offer the team the athletic skills for which they were recruited, but also a much needed vibrancy and passion for the sport.

“Practice every day is a lot of fun because we’re all pushing each other,” Bogle said. “I think everybody has done a really good job of encouraging all grades, like freshmen encouraging seniors and whatnot. There’s a unique overall energy we have day in and day out that we didn’t have other years.”

Head coach Kristen Dowling is also excited about the energy that the youthful team has brought so far. “While others may see it as a rebuilding year, we do not. We are young but talented,” Dowling said. “The benefit of our youth has been drive. Our players are passionate and hungry to learn.”

The combination of a youthful spirit from the first and second-years and leadership from older players creates an atmosphere conducive to a successful season, the players say.

“I’m excited to see what’s in store for us,” Gagliuso said.  “We have an emphasis on this ‘in the moment’ mentality this year and I️ think if executed properly, it will bring us a lot of success.”

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