Women’s bball travels to national tournament


Chance Iheoma

Women’s Basketball center Sarah Healy takes a shot at this season’s national tourna-ment.

Chance Iheoma and Arianna Beers

AACC Women’s Basketball came in last place in the Division III National Tournament in March, yet the coach said he couldn’t be prouder of the team.

“They got an experience of a lifetime,” coach Lionel Makell said. “[We’re] one of eight teams in the country at our level.”

With just six players, the team qualified for nationals by winning the Division III Region Tournament.

“I only have six young ladies, and they are probably the hardest-working six student athletes that I have been around in a long time,” said Makell, who graduated from AACC in 1984. “It’s an honor to be coaching them.”

The Riverhawks finished off the regular season with 9 wins and 13 losses, and beat Butler County Community College to win regionals on Feb. 24, 74-54.

AACC ended the first half of the game five points ahead of Butler County Community College, with a score of 37-32.

Makell said at halftime he motivated his players to keep up their energy in the second half and worked with the team’s only center, Sarah Healy.

“I went and told her, I said, ‘Have you ever been a MVP?’” Makell said. “She said, ‘No, coach,’ and I said, ‘Well, if you keep playing like you are you will be the MVP in this tournament.’”

Makell was right.

Healy scored 30 points, made 22 rebounds against Butler and earned the Most Valuable Player award for the regional tournament.

Healy, a first-year transfer studies student, said the team’s chemistry and bond gave them an advantage over their opponent.

“We were very energetic and lively [during the tournament],” Healy said. “Everyone was on edge at first, but then we snapped out of it and went beast mode.”

Healy’s teammates, Karley Haensler, a second-year forward, and Caitlyn Stanbery, a first-year guard, agreed their bond and “sister vibe” was a key factor in their regional win.

“When one is down everyone is down and if one’s up everyone’s up,” Haensler said. “So I think … clapping, cheering and slapping hands during the game makes us stay positive.”

Marcy Augustin, a second-year guard, said even though the team hadn’t played together before this season she felt a spark at the first practice this year.

“I felt the chemistry from the jump,” Augustin said. “There wasn’t really an awkward phase. It just came naturally.”

In the first round of the national tournament, AACC fell to the top-ranked Hostos Community College with a final score of 91-37 in the Arthur L. Scott Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Hostos went on to win the national championship game.

“We had a really good energy before the game, Stanbery said. “We’re a very supportive team. Before the game we said a prayer. … We really wanted to win.”

After the first half of the game against Hostos Community College, AACC was down 46-17. Makell sat his team down at halftime and encouraged the players to not let their opponent control the game.

“I told them all in the second half, I said, ‘You know what? First half they got us; we played their game,’” Makell said. “Second half, let’s play our game … let’s play Riverhawk basketball.”

The Riverhawks came back offensively in the third quarter, scoring 15 points.However, AACC’s offensive jump was not enough to catch up before the end of the game.

“I think one thing that remained steady throughout the game was our hustle and our heart out on the court,” Stanbery said.

Following AACC’s loss in round one of nationals, the team played two rounds in a consolation bracket, but lost both games.

The team lost its main shooting guard mid-season, so each player has had to run for 40 minutes in the past four games.