WATERTOWN, Wis. -- This last season had its high points for the Sabercats' Women's Basketball Team, but the ups of the regular season were overshadowed by the disappointment of losing at the regional level for just the second time in the last 14 years.
That regional loss came in the NCCAA North Region Championship against the Emmaus Bible College Eagles, who proved to be an impressive team this season.
HOW THE SEASON UNFOLDED
Maranatha took a while to get some wins under their belts, as they took 5 losses from their opening 6 games to enter the Christmas Break without much momentum to speak of.
After the slow start, the Sabercats turned the tables by recording 5 wins through their next 8 games. Perhaps the most noteworthy of the 5 wins was a 12-point victory at Grace Bible College. It was a night when the Sabercats were firing on all cylinders, as Trisha Wright shot a perfect 5-5 from downtown and Lexi Bueltel notched a career-second-best 23 points. Best of all, MBU set a program record for assists in a game, recording 28 on the night.*
Riding 3 wins in their last 4 games of the season, the Sabercats had momentum going into the regional tournament. MBU was ranked #2 (after that regular-season loss to Emmaus), and they were put to the test in the competitive weekend when they squared off against Trinity Bible in the opener. MBU used some smart game management late on to secure a 3-point lead and a ticket to the regional championship against EBC.
Shooting turned out to be the difference-maker in the end, as it proved to be the Sabercats' undoing. In a heartbreaking regional championship, the Sabercats' hopes for a place in the National Tournament were dashed by the Eagles, who took home their first-ever regional title by a score of 66-85.
Despite the loss to end the season, the Sabercats had some solid individual performances, which are noted in the scouting report below.
STATS AND SPORTS INFO
MBU recorded the following top-10 records for performances in a season.
- 7th: Team scoring average: 60.5
- 10th: Team rebounds: 1,021*
- 3rd: Team rebounding average: 42.5*
- 7th: Team assists: 345*
- 3rd: Team assists average: 14.4*
- 6th: Team rebounding margin: 3.4*
Other statistical milestones for individual games were as follows:
- 1st: Team assists: 28 at Grace Bible 1/19/2018*
- 1st: Individual rebounds: 22 for Karley Johnson vs Trinity Bible 2/23/2018*
- 1st: Individual assists: 13 for Kelsey Johnson vs Great Lakes 2/10/2018*
- T1st: Team blocks: 9 at Rockford 12.12.2017*
- T2nd Team assists: 27 vs Great Lakes 2/10/2018*
- T2nd: Team rebounds: 58 vs Great Lakes 2/10/2018*
- T3rd: Individual assists: 9 for Kelsey Johnson at Grace Bible 1/19/2018*
- 3rd: Individual rebounds: 18 for Kelsey Johnson vs Trinity Bible 2/23/2018*
- T4th: Individual steals: 8 for Lexi Bueltel vs Silver Lake 2/3/2018*
*Indicates a category that has statistical tracking from 2000 and on.
- Record: 10-14
- NCCAA DII Record: 7-2
- Final NCCAA National Ranking: 8th
- NCCAA All-America Selections:
- Lexi Bueltel (3rd Team)
- NCCAA All-Region Selections:
- Lexi Bueltel (1st Team), Kelsey Johnson (2nd Team), Karley Johnson (3rd Team), Katie Bender (Honorable Mention)
- AD3I All-Independent Selections:
- Kelsey Johnson (1st Team, Player of the Year), Lexi Bueltel (1st Team)
- NCCAA Scholar-Athletes:
- Maisy Alldredge, Hannah Wells
For starters, there was Kelsey Johnson. The sophomore's season was noteworthy from start to finish. Johnson recorded double-digit points in every game except one, and even then, she notched 9 points and 10 rebounds. Johnson was the only player in the entire AD3I to rank in the top 10 in every category of positive statistics, and she finished at the top of the charts in assists (96) and minutes played (789). Because of her consistent effectiveness, Johnson earned the first AD3I Player of the Year honor in the 5 seasons that MBU has been a part of the Association.
Lexi Bueltel was another key piece of the puzzle for Maranatha, and her presence will be missed. Bueltel added a memory for the Sabercats this season by logging her 1,000th career point in front of her parents and her high school coach on Parents' Day. It was a special moment for Bueltel, and it was a culmination of the senior's hard work and consistency throughout her 4-year career in the Blue and Gold. Bueltel was the only Sabercat to earn NCCAA All-American honors, as she was named to the 3rd team.
The rest of the Sabercats' squad was balanced out by Karley Johnson, Katie Bender, and Claire Hansel, who all solidified themselves as starting 5 options by the end of the season. One tradition that this year's group maintained was reaching double-digit wins, as MBU's 10-win mark this year was the 16th time they have reached the mark in the last 18 seasons.
To learn more about the team, visit their team page by clicking here.
*Women's Basketball records are subject to incomplete season data. If you find an error, provide documentation of your proposed correction to email@example.com