The Knox College Women’s conference tournament hopes came to a heartbreaking end on Tuesday, as the Prairie Fire fell to the Grinnell College Pioneers 59-53.
Leading for most of the game, Knox entered the fourth quarter up by 11 points in the game that would have a huge hand in deciding which of the two teams headed to the postseason.
Unable to finish the game strong, the Knox Women’s Basketball team lost its lead in the last four minutes of the game and was unable to reclaim it.
Heading into the game, the team knew that the winner would have a greater chance of advancing to the Midwest Conference Playoffs as only the top four teams qualify.
Women’s Coach Emily Cline described the mindset before the game, saying, “We were focused on executing our game plan for four quarters and not being too up or too low.”
The players shared the same mindset as their coach heading into the game, as junior Naja Woods said, “The mindset going into this game for our team was basically to go out there and leave everything we had on the floor.”
They seemed to be doing well in this regard considering their second and third quarter buzzer-beating three point baskets.
Even with the loss and being eliminated from contention for the MWC tournament, Cline still believes there is a lot to be celebrated about the team’s season.
“We can no longer make the conference tournament but that in no way changes all that we have accomplished this season. I am proud of our team and even though we didn’t make the conference tournament we have had a great season,” Cline said.
With a record of 13-9, 10-7 in conference, the team completed their second straight winning season, the first time this has happened during Cline’s time with the team.
Cline stressed the importance of finishing the season strong in order to go into next season on a high note.
“We put a lot of emphasis on the process and getting better, so that is always our goal and the most important thing. If we play to our potential, we can compete with anyone in the league. I also think we have good momentum with back to back winning seasons that we can build on for next season,” Cline said.
When asked about the impact of the game’s outcome on team morale, Woods said, “I think that [the loss] was a huge disappointment for our team. Making the MWC tournament has been one of our team’s goals since the beginning of the season.”
Woods thinks that the tough end to this season will help the team in the future, as no players will graduate this year.
“We plan to bring everything we have next year considering we have another year for all of us to play together,” Woods said.
Closing out their season on Saturday against Ripon College in a home game, the Women’s Basketball team will look to close the season strong in order to start building confidence for a historic season next year.