Women’s hoops overcoming adversity

February 22, 2016


MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Unpredictable playoff runs in March are part of the norm in college basketball, and the Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) women’s basketball team is hoping it can wear that special slipper.

Freshman Ebony Reynolds (Patrick County, Va.) put it best after the Lady Patriots’ 71-60 win over Guilford Tech on Feb. 18, saying the team has nothing to lose at this point. PHCC head coach Brian Henderson is probably the biggest believer in his team’s potential in sneaking up on either Cape Fear or Louisburg — the top two teams in Region X, Division II.

The obstacles overcome by the Lady Patriots over the last month make them the perfect candidate for a feel-good underdog. With a 2-2 record over its last four games, PHCC’s two wins have come against teams (Brunswick and Guilford Tech) that each beat them by 19 points the first time around. Both losses were to the Sea Devils and Hurricanes.

The road traveled hasn’t been an easy one in February. Following season-long suspensions to freshman Precious England (Danville, Va.) and Kedra Bradley (Danville, Va.), for their involvement in an incident at the end of a Jan. 30 game against Bryant & Stratton, two-game suspensions for a few others forced the Patriots to forfeit two games. The roster then returned to just seven players.

Determined to formulate a plan for readjusting to the final six games of the regular season, Henderson said maintaining the same approach was the main objective. Forced to play the hand they were dealt by the NJCAA, the Lady Pats were determined to make the right name for themselves. Being the underdog, Henderson added, suits the team perfectly.

“You definitely want to finish the season strong and we feel that our confidence is at an all-season high for us right now,” Henderson said. “I’ve preached from day one that I believed in them, and now they’re starting to do it for themselves and each other.”

The continued fight shown by the PHCC women is an admirable one. Not only that, but the opportunities provided to some others over the closing month have also proved beneficial. A new starting lineup was needed and stepping into the fold is German sophomore Elena Suebsman. The forward said she and her teammates are simply making the most of the situation.

Suebsman has started in each of the last four games, providing another key rebounder with Reynolds and freshman Ruth Omolola (New Carrollton, Md.). She is averaging 7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per over her last four. Freshman Olivia Simpson (Australia) also has seen a boost in minutes, as well, scoring 10 and 13, respectively in the last two victories.

“Nothing beats experience and there’s nothing taking away from that right now,” Henderson said. “It’s been a long season with a lot of games and now it’s a lot of minutes. I can start to see the the benefits of that.”

Suebsman said she’s enjoyed the increased playing time as her time winds down at PHCC. The sophomore also attributed the relaxed and carefree nature of the team as a product of enjoying the game more. The main difference, however, was quickly adjusting to having a short bench. The defensive strategy had to change with foul trouble becoming more of an issue.

“We have to be well conditioned and watch our fouls,” said Suebsman of the adjustment period. “We struggled a little bit with that but we’ve started to figure it out. Defensively, we were forced to play less man-to-man and more zone.”

Henderson said that both England and Bradley have remained integral parts to the team. They are still able to practice and continue to develop. With that bond still strong, the connectivity of the team wasn’t fully compromised.

Having overcome the initial shock of not only losing two teammates but having to forfeit two games, Henderson couldn’t be more proud of his team’s resolve and adversity. It was a dark day and difficult situation to work through, he said, but he looks at the next week as a chance to make something of the season.

“Anything is possible for us in this league. Everyone beats everyone,” Suebsman added.


Filed under: Women's Basketball