Women’s basketball expectations high after improved 2015-16 year

While the Clarion University women’s basketball team may not have made the PSAC playoffs this year, they certainly made huge strides this past season.

Just a year ago, the team finished with a 2-25 record in head coach Jana Ashley’s first year at the helm.

Jordan Bekelja brings the ball up the floor. Paige Newcomb / The Clarion Call
Jordan Bekelja brings the ball up the floor.
Paige Newcomb / The Clarion Call

However, the Golden Eagles took a major step forward this year, posting a 9-19 record overall while going 9-13 in PSAC play.

To many Golden Eagle fans, this is an encouraging sign for the program.

Part of the team’s success this year came from fresh faces recruited by Coach Ashley.

Freshman point guard Jordan Bekelja started the season as a captain, and immediately showed why from her performance on the court.

Bekelja was third on the team in scoring this year, averaging 10 points per game.

She also led the team in assists with 3.4 assists per game.

While leading scorer Tania Holmes, who averaged 14.1 ppg, is graduating, the team will still be strong at guard.

Tyra Polite averaged 12.8 ppg in her first season as a Golden Eagle, while also leading the team with 61 three-pointers on the year.

With the team only losing Holmes this year, the core of the 9-19 Golden Eagles will remain intact.

Ashley noted that, “We return 10 of our 11 players from this season and will bring in a group of very talented freshmen.  Tyra Polite, Jordan Bekelja and Delrika Jones-Carey are our top three leading scorers coming back next season, and I expect them to improve and add to their individual games in the offseason.  Ashley DeLeonibus was a midseason transfer into our team and we expect her to contribute greatly in the post for us now that she understands what it takes to compete in the paint in our league.  We will be one of the more experienced teams in the PSAC next season, and I’m excited to see how our chemistry grows until we get the chance to step back on the court next Nov.”

Many Golden Eagle fans noticed that as the season went on, the team seemed to become more comfortable with one another and grow in chemistry.

Ashley said that, “As the season went on, our team turned it up a notch defensively.  We became a team that could use two or three different full court presses in any given game.  Our ability to pressure teams for 40 minutes was a direct result of our bench being deeper especially late in the season.”

Golden Eagle fans have every right to be excited for the 2016-2017 season.

A strong core paired with incoming recruits will be a force to be reckoned with next season.

Ashley notes that, “We will challenge ourselves again next year with our non-conference and exhibition game schedule playing some Division I teams early on.  Our obvious goal is to make the PSAC playoffs, but other goals will be set by our team once we have a chance to relax and reflect on the season we just had.”

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