Women's basketball bets foundation for future with breakout season

By Patrick Murphy

The Macalester women’s basketball team saw their season come to an end on Monday night at the hands of neighborhood rival, St. Thomas. The Scots started the game hot, jumping out to a 7-0 lead, holding St. Thomas scoreless for the first five and half minutes, but the Scots cooled down, and the Tommies went on a 24-6 run. Mac went into halftime down 21-28.The Scots’ usually deadly perimeter shooting game was off, allowing the Tommies to double and triple-team center Ann Baltzer ’10 and power forward Trina PaStarr ’10. The team was held to 25% shooting from the field. Mac came into the second half looking to close the gap, but the Tommies played stifling defense, and opened up the gap by going on a 14-6 run to start the second half.

While most of the offense struggled, Baltzer, PaStarr, and Jess Rene ’12 picked up the slack. Baltzer led the team with an 18-point effort and Rene and PaStarr had 11 points a piece. Guard Danielle Johnson ’10 got into the mix with a pair of free throws and later brought the Scots to within six points after hitting a three-pointer with just under four minutes to play. The Tommies were able to hold off the charging Scots by forcing turnovers and taking advantage of offensive rebounds with second chance points. A pair of three-pointers by Shannon Rene ’12 and twin sister Jess Rene ’12 got the Scots back to within six with under a minute to play, but UST was able to hold on for a 60-52 win.

While the loss to St. Thomas was certainly a disappointment for the team, the game marked the first time that Mac women’s basketball had ever made the MIAC playoffs. With the leadership of Baltzer, PaStarr, Johnson, and Eartha Bell ’10, Macalester had its best season in history, finishing the regular season with an impressive record of 16-6 in the conference. Baltzer, PaStarr, and Johnson have led the team since the time they were freshmen. Both Baltzer and PaStarr reached the 1000 career points milestone this season. When asked about this achievement, both Baltzer and PaStarr were modest, focusing on what the team has achieved this season and over the last four years.

“For my first three years playing for Macalester, we always had this underdog mentality,” PaStarr said. “We went into games just hoping for small victories, but this year our mentality has changed, leading to greater success.”

Baltzer agreed saying, “This year, we’ve gone into games knowing that we can beat anybody. Three years ago that certainly wasn’t the case.”

Johnson attributed the team’s success to its experience and chemistry, which have led to greater success on the court.

By leading the team to the playoffs, the seniors accomplished something that would have been unthinkable just two or three seasons ago. Putting past struggles in the rearview mirror, the seniors led a dramatic turnaround, capping off an impressive four years by reaching the playoffs. All of the seniors will be missed going forward, but Baltzer, PaStarr, and Johnson, who have led the team each of the last four years, will be missed especially for both their play and leadership.

The future of the team is in the hands of the younger players, but that shouldn’t be a cause for concern. The Rene sisters along with Holly Schiedermayer ’12, Majra Mucic ’11, Maggie Wood ’12, and Audrey Mills ’12 have the talent to develop into team leaders in their own right. The Renes have already established themselves as big time players, and the other four players have the talent to follow suit with more playing time in the future.

As the departing seniors walked off the court for the last time, feelings of disappointment were unavoidable, but they can always take pride in what the team accomplished during their four years. They came to a hapless team, and laid the foundation for future success.