Over the past six seasons, the Knox College women’s basketball program has an overall record of 19-118 and a 5-91 record in the Midwest Conference.
But first year head coach Emily Cline believes the record will improve.
“I think there is a lot of potential here. I am hoping with a lot of hard work we can get to where we want to be. The girls have a great work ethic,” Cline said. “We need to play better defense. We need to focus on the fundamentals. Our focus needs to be on getting better every day and not worry so much about the scoreboard. We need to define success and be better than when we started and then the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”
The Prairie Fire has five freshman, three sophomores, five juniors and one senior listed on the roster. The lone senior, Hayle Gosnell, agrees with her coach.
“We know we have a lot of talent this year, and we are just trying to build as much as possible to get better every single day. As long as we get better every day it is an improvement and a success,” said Gosnell, a 5-foot-6 guard and one of the team captains. “The main thing is to play as hard as we possibly can. We need to go in hard and play forty minutes every single game. Last year, we had a bit little of trouble playing one half at a time. If we come out strong from beginning to end, we will be very successful. Being the only senior, I am trying to lead by example on the floor and off the floor. I have thrown myself into that leadership position right from the get go. We are trying to build a program, and I am trying to step up as much as possible.”
Gosnell is not the only member of this season’s team who needs to step up her game, especially since the injury bug has bitten the Prairie Fire.
“Other people are going to have to step up and play more than I thought maybe they were going to,” Cline said.
Junior Tracy Herring, a 5-foot-5 guard, injured her right shoulder and will miss the rest of the season.
“I am going to need surgery to repair it,” Herring said. “It wouldn’t seem like I am injured, because I can shoot and do almost everything. However, as soon as I play and do contact drills my shoulder dislocates. But I love basketball, my team and my teammates, which is why I am staying apart of the team.”
Herring is not the only junior 5-foot-5 guard injured. Cheyenne Cortez will be out until the middle of December with a broken right medial malleolus (ankle bone).
“I plan to work hard over break so that I can hopefully get back on the court in January,” Cortez said.
The injuries have left the Prairie Fire a little short on depth.
“I was feeling good about our depth until those injuries,” Cline said. “Obviously, it hurts having those two sitting there in street clothes.”
The Knox bench is not that deep, but Cline thinks a number of players will help alleviate the team’s injury woes and help them be more aggressive.
“There are several freshmen and a transfer student (junior Ali Hidden) who are all going to be helpful to the team,” Cline said. “As well as some of the older players, but I think those new players will help us be more competitive for sure. We are not where we need to be, but I think we have improved a lot in just the first month.”
Junior Kate Moon, a 5-foot-8 guard/forward and the other team captain added, “We are making progress. The biggest challenge is keeping everybody up and positive during practice and making sure they are staying intense. We have a fairly young group of kids, but also we have a solid group coming in. We need to have confidence. We are working really hard on our defense, which in our conference is going to be key. We are also working a lot on our shooting percentage. Coach Cline has spent a tremendous amount of time on those things.”
The Prairie Fire have 12 days until their first game of the season on Nov. 25 when the Clarke College Crusaders come to Galesburg.