Knox Women’s Basketball finished the 2018-19 season fifth in conference with a record in conference of 10-8 and just missed making the Midwest Conference Tournament. According to the Midwest Conference Coaches Poll, the Prairie Fire basketball team is projected to finish sixth this season.
The team lost three starters to graduation: Karlie Thorn, Taliah Ellis and Morgan Potter. With those three players graduating, the women’s team is losing a combined 25.4 points per game, 11.6 rebounds per game. and 80.5 minutes per game. Those three seniors were key contributors, but the team and coaching staff are feeling optimistic and determined about the upcoming season.
The Prairie Fire have welcomed seven new faces to the team Ñ six are freshmen and one is a junior transfer student from a junior college.
Several of the returning players have a similar team goal and that is to make it to the Midwest Conference Tournament this season.
“Winning a conference title is the biggest goal, but honestly the main goal is just taking things game by game and getting better every day,” Olivia Palepoi said.
Palepoi also commented that she is excited to see this team’s potential “because of the talent and love we have for each other.”
As a freshman, Palepoi appeared in 25 games and had a field goal percentage of 32.7. Senior Kyra Huffman, who has started the past three years and averaged 7.9 points per game, is going to be a big asset for this year’s team and a key to its success.
“We have a lot of new players, as well as returners, who are extremely good in all aspects ÐÐ from three pointers, to driving, to post ups. This allows the scoring to be shared all around,” Huffman said.
Women’s Basketball made 125 three pointers last year with graduate Karlie Thorn making 55 of them Ñ almost half. It is clear that the team will need to fill some holes in their lineup, but sharing the role of scoring will help them continue to dominate.
Head Coach Emily Cline is going into her twelfth season with the Prairie Fire and is excited for the upcoming season.
“The players have been working really hard and have been very coachable. We have a good group in terms of talent and we have a good blend of youth and experience,” Cline said.
The team is primarily underclassmen, so Cline will look to Huffman and senior Jarrelyn McCall to lead this team. Both Huffman and McCall have been starters for the past three years for the Prairie Fire and McCall has been an All-Conference selection in each of the past three years.
Freshman Maureen Schmid has an additional goal for herself beyond making the Midwest Conference Tournament.
“I hope to come to every practice ready to work as hard as I can. I want to become a better player as I transition from high school to college basketball,” she said.
Schmid is looking forward to seeing what the team accomplishes this year.
“Everyone works hard everyday and there is some amazing talent across the board,” Schmid said.
Sophomore Jessica Lee, who contributed over 500 minutes off the bench last year as a freshman, has been impressed with the new players thus far.
“They bring a good energy and they work hard in practice. The freshmen will definitely do big things for the team this year,” said Lee.
Knox Women’s Basketball will play their season opener on Saturday, Nov. 9 against North Central College at Knox College. They will play four other non-conference teams in November before they begin conference play on Dec. 4 in an away game at Lawrence University.