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Posts Tagged ‘Northwest Conference’

“You can’t contain us! You can’t beat us!!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One win away from punching a guaranteed ticket to the big dance.

The Whitman College women’s basketball team jumped out quickly Thursday on the University of Puget Sound, then held off a late rally to claim a 72-66 home win in the semifinals of the Northwest Conference postseason tourney.

With the win, their 12th straight, the Blues improve to 24-2 and advance to the championship game of the NWC tourney.

They’ll face arch-rival George Fox University (20-6) Saturday, after the Bruins upended Pacific University 56-47.

The winner claims an automatic berth to the 64-team NCAA D-III national championships, which run March 6-22, while the loser waits to see if they can nab an at-large bid.

Win or lose Saturday, it seems all but certain Whitman, currently ranked #7 in the nation, will be part of March Madness.

It would be the third trip to the big dance in four years for the Blues seniors – Lily Gustafson, Mady Burdett, Katie Stahl, Natalie Whitsel, and Coupeville grad Makana Stone.

Whitman advanced all the way to the Elite Eight during their freshman campaign in 2016-2017, and the group is a stellar 92-19 overall since arriving in Walla Walla.

Thursday’s game was one in which Whitman almost pulled away several times, only to have a pesky Puget Sound squad mount mini-comeback after mini-comeback.

Blues gunner Kaelan Shamseldin opened the game with a three-ball, before Stone slapped home back-to-back layups to stake Whitman to a 7-3 lead.

After the game’s one and only tie at 3-3, the Blues led the entire night.

Up 15-5 after one quarter, Whitman stretched the lead out to 33-20 midway through the second quarter, with Stone once again stepping up.

The Northwest Conference Player of the Year hit a jumper and a free throw, then made off with a steal to set up a potentially game-busting jumper from Kaylie McCracken.

But it wasn’t to be, as UPS closed within eight at the half (38-30), fell behind by 13 in the third, then roared all the way back within four points with under two minutes to play.

Clinging to a 68-64 lead, Whitman put the ball in Burdett’s hands, and the sweet-shootin’ assassin from Edmonds closed the game by rippling the nets on four consecutive free throws to cap a team-high 16-point performance.

The Blues only got scoring from six players, but four of those finished in double-digits.

McCracken pumped in 15, Gustafson banked home 13, Shamseldin made the nets jump for 12, and Taylor Chambers popped for nine.

Hampered by foul trouble all night, Stone had a relatively quiet night, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, an assist, and a steal in just 26 minutes of action.

Also having a very muted game was Puget Sound’s First-Team All-Conference player Jamie Lange, a double-double machine who was held to just eight points and three rebounds in her collegiate swan song.

On the season, Stone sits with 405 points, 220 rebounds, 37 assists, 26 steals, and 25 blocked shots, while shooting 166-313 (53%) from the floor and 70-88 (79.5%) from the free throw line.

The 405 points is the 10th best individual scoring season by a Whitman women’s player.

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Whitman College senior Makana Stone has been tabbed as the Northwest Conference women’s basketball Player of the Year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

She’s been crowned as the belle of the (round)ball.

Coupeville grad Makana Stone has won a ton of honors during a stellar four-year run on the basketball court at Whitman College, but now she’s reached the top of the podium.

The former Wolf ace was named the Northwest Conference Player of the Year Tuesday, honored for leading her team to a league title and the #7 ranking in all of D-III hoops.

Whitman went 15-1 in league action and is 23-2 overall heading into the start of the conference postseason tourney Thursday night.

Stone, a senior, has racked up 398 points, 216 rebounds, 36 assists, 25 steals, and 25 blocks this season, and is shooting 163-304 from the floor and 69-87 at the free throw line.

While this is her first collegiate Player of the Year award, Andre Stone’s lil’ sis was previously named a First-Team All-Conference player as both a sophomore and junior.

She is joined on the 2019-2020 All-Conference First-Team squad by Blues teammate Mady Burdett, as well as Kory Oleson and Molly Danielson of Linfield, Jamie Lange of Puget Sound, and Courtney Carolan of Pacific.

Whitman’s coach, Michelle Ferenz, was honored as Coach of the Year.

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Makana Stone (23) moved into 5th place on the Whitman College women’s basketball career scoring chart Friday, sparking the Blues to another league win. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One step closer to that elusive league title.

Taking care of business on the front end of a two-game trip to Oregon, the Whitman College women’s basketball squad came out Friday night and polished off Willamette 72-54.

The victory, sparked by a 14-point, 9-rebound performance by Coupeville’s Makana Stone, lifts the Blues to 10-1 in Northwest Conference play, 18-2 overall.

Whitman, ranked #8 in NCAA D-III, is a game-and-a-half up on George Fox University (9-3, 17-4) and two ahead of Pacific University (8-3, 14-6).

The Blues, who have won six straight, go for a weekend sweep Saturday, when they jump from Salem to Portland to face cellar-dweller Lewis & Clark College (1-10, 2-17).

In Friday’s game Whitman struggled a bit in the early going, watching layup after layup slide off the rim.

Willamette netted a pair of long three-balls and led the entire way, heading to the first break up 13-9.

Jump forward a few minutes, and things started to finally click for the Blues.

Trailing 16-11, Whitman went off on a 10-0 run, with Stone dropping six points and Elena McHargue chipping in with four during the surge.

The first lead of the night for the Blues came at 17-16, off of a play on which Stone rolled hard to the hoop, pulled in a lob and slapped home the layup with great emphasis.

While Willamette managed to get back to a 21-21 tie, for a moment at least, the host Bearcats would never lead again on this night.

Up 28-25 at the half, Whitman put the game on ice with a 12-3 run to end the third quarter, stretching the margin out to 49-36.

Stone and Taylor Chambers each banked in five points during the display of run ‘n gun fun times, with the former Coupeville ace moving into 5th place on the Whitman women’s career scoring list with her next-to-last bucket.

The fourth quarter was about getting a fair amount of playing time for the Blues reserves, as Whitman pushed the lead all the way out to 20 points, then sauntered in with the win.

Stone’s 14 points topped the Blues, while her nine boards were a game-high. She also added two steals, an assist, and a thunderous block off the back wall.

Whitman, as usual, had very-balanced scoring, with Kaylie McCracken (12), Mady Burdett (11), Elena McHargue (9), and Lily Gustafson (9) all having strong nights.

On the season, Stone has 320 points, 163 rebounds, 28 assists, 22 steals, and 17 blocked shots, while shooting 131-242 (54.1%) from the floor and 55-72 (76.3%) at the free-throw line.

With 1,247 points and counting, the CHS grad passed Erica Aydelotte (1,243) Friday, and trails just Katie Rubenser (1,693), Jennifer McClure (1,639), Heather Johns (1,411), and Sarah Anderegg (1,342) on Whitman’s career scoring chart.

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CHS grad Makana Stone netted 19 points Saturday as Whitman stormed back from 16 down to beat George Fox. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

From heartbroken to heartbreakers.

A night after blowing a 19-point lead, the Whitman College women’s basketball team rallied from 16 down Saturday to pull out a stunning come-from-behind win on the road in Oregon.

Sparked by the wham-bam twins, Mady Burdett and Coupeville’s Makana Stone, the Blues thrashed George Fox University in the fourth quarter, claiming a 62-54 win.

The victory gives Whitman a weekend split, after a one-point loss at Pacific University Friday, lifting it to 5-1 in Northwest Conference play, 13-2 overall.

The Blues are a game back of Pacific (6-0, 12-3) and a game up on Linfield (4-2, 10-5) and Willamette (4-2, 10-5) with 10 games left to play in the regular season.

If George Fox (3-3, 11-4) had held on for the win, there would have been a four-team logjam for second-place.

Instead, thanks to their splendid seniors, who both left the game with third quarter injuries, only to return stronger than ever, the Blues return to Walla Walla riding a high note.

It didn’t look like it would go that way for much of the game Saturday, as George Fox came out blazing from behind the three-point arc and built a 23-13 lead after one quarter.

Things looked even worse when the Bruins stretched the margin out to 29-13 early in the second frame.

But, you live by the three-ball, you can die by the three-ball, and Whitman can sink treys with just about anyone.

The Blues got back in the game with a 12-0 run, with Burdett raining down back-to-back bombs, followed by a rainbow off the fingertips of Kaelan Shamseldin.

Stone picked up assists on treys #2 and #3, drawing the defense to her side of the floor, then kicking the ball cross-court to open teammates.

And, just to make sure everyone knows her game is well-rounded, the former CHS star then knocked down a three-ball of her own the next time down the floor.

Back within 36-31 at the half, things were looking up for Whitman.

Then came the third quarter, a frame in which the entire season seemed to totter on the edge.

Stone went down first, landing awkwardly after snagging a rebound and crashing to the floor. Then, Burdett followed her to the bench after getting smacked, hard, on a drive to the hoop.

Without their primary scoring threats as options, the Blues struggled, watching a four-point deficit balloon back out to 10 by the end of the quarter.

If Blues fans had some hope, a large part of it came when Stone and Burdett both returned late in the frame, erasing any lingering doubts they might have suffered serious injury.

George Fox was still feeling pretty good, up 50-40 in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, and seemingly in control of things.

Spoiler: it was not in control.

Stone lit the fuse in the fourth with an emphatic blocked shot, then drained a pair of free throws to kick off what would become a game-breaking 18-0 run.

Back-to-back treys from Burdett fired up the Blues, Stone rolled inside for a layup to tie the game, and then Whitman claimed its first lead of the night on a pair of free throws from Kaylie McCracken.

With the Blues playing a withering defense in the fourth, George Fox’s shooting touch went into the deep freeze, and never emerged.

Held scoreless for the first nine minutes and five seconds of a 10-minute final frame, the Bruins could only weep silently as Burdett and Shamseldin capped the run with two more three-balls.

From there, Whitman iced the win at the free throw line, then danced away having decided the game with a 22-4 note-perfect performance in the fourth.

Burdett rippled the nets for six treys while hitting on a game-high 22 points, while Stone collected 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 32 minutes of action.

On the season, Coupeville’s progeny has 233 points, 117 rebounds, 21 assists, 18 steals, and 15 blocks, while shooting 94-175 (53.7%) from the floor and 42-54 (77.7%) at the free throw line.

Stone also moved into 6th place on the Whitman women’s career scoring list Saturday, passing former teammate Casey Poe with a turnaround jumper in the first quarter.

With 1,161 points and counting, she’s 83 points away from claiming 5th.

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Makana Stone and Whitman are 12-1 after dismantling Willamette. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

One big test passed, one to go.

Paced by a 19-point, 8-rebound performance from Coupeville’s Makana Stone, the Whitman College women’s basketball team shredded visiting Willamette University 74-54 Saturday afternoon.

A matchup between two of the three previously undefeated teams in the Northwest Conference, it’s a huge boost for the Blues, who are ranked #12 in NCAA D-III play.

Now 4-0 in league, 12-1 overall, Whitman sits in a first-place tie with Pacific University (4-0, 10-3), a game up on Willamette (3-1, 9-4) atop the nine-team conference.

And that second big test? It arrives in six days.

The Blues travel to Oregon next weekend, hitting Forest Grove Friday and Newberg Saturday.

The first night will be a battle with Pacific for sole possession of first place, while the second pits Whitman against always-tough George Fox University.

Saturday’s showdown with Willamette, coming on “Bring A Girl to the Game Night,” left a ton of happy fans at the Sherwood Athletic Center in Walla Walla.

While the visiting Bearcats scored the first bucket of the game, after that it was all Whitman, all the time.

Stone helped kick off a 10-0 run by knocking down a jumper, then coming back around to make off with a steal and feed teammate Kaelan Shamseldin for an electric three-ball.

From there, the Blues never looked back and never slowed down, steadily stretching the lead out, quarter by quarter.

Up 24-12 at the first break, Whitman moved the margin to 43-24 at the half and 58-37 after three quarters of play.

Stone poured in points in all four quarters, and got plenty of backup as Mady Burdett popped for 16, Shamseldin rattled the rims for 10, and Kaylie McCracken just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.

Saturday’s performance continues a very-strong season for the former Wolf star.

On the year, Stone sit with 201 points, 110 rebounds, 16 assists, 18 steals, and 12 blocked shots.

She’s hit 81-151 (53.6%) from the field and 37-46 (80.4%) from the line.

After scoring 1,158 points during her high school career — third-best in CHS hoops history, girl or boy — Stone has poured in 1,129 during her collegiate run.

That puts her #7 all-time in Whitman women’s basketball history, just 17 points away from passing former teammate Casey Poe to claim 6th place.

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