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Basketball seniors aim for conference spot

On the day she played the final home game of her Rollins career, Carly McLendon registered a team high of 11 rebounds on the day. McLendon bounced elegantly down the court and remained focused at the net while in constant communication with senior point guard Vernisha Andrews. 

McLendon and Andrews, women’s basketball’s lone seniors, exhibited leadership throughout last Saturday’s game against Eckerd. However, it was not enough to give the team a win. The team celebrated Senior Day amid its 44-47 loss despite a solid defensive effort. 

Senior Day is the last home game of senior player’s careers. “It is always full of emotions, but I think we all came out ready to play and really gave it our all,” said McLendon.

Despite the game’s result, Andrews cherished the collective effort: “The underclassmen played their hearts out, and that is something I will remember about this game for the rest of my life.”

From here, the seniors must focus on advancing the team’s spot in postseason play. It needs wins in the remaining regular season games, which is against Florida Tech on Feb. 27 and Florida Southern on March 2. 

To win its final games, the team must avoid getting comfortable with leads. This is something it struggled with against Eckerd; the Tars took the initial lead and held onto it for the first half, as the team’s disciplined defense established a 10-point lead. 

However, confusion in offense eventually haunted Coach Glenn Wilkes’ team as Eckerd caught up in the third quarter, gaining points at the sound of the buzzer. An unfruitful fourth quarter followed, with only seven points in total from both sides and, frustratingly, no change in the lead.

Even so, the Tars can be proud to have pushed Eckerd 24 points below their season average. McLendon was mindful of the possibility for even more improvement. “We really had a hard time scoring as well. We had a couple good looks at the end of the game and couldn’t get any of them to fall,” she said.

Falling just a few points short has been a recurring theme for the women’s basketball team. Nonetheless, the Tars have shown they are capable of consistency, as demonstrated by the 5-0 start in conference play. More importantly, they are still in a position to secure a spot in the conference tournament.

“Luckily, we still have a chance to turn this season around,” said McLendon. “We can win three games in the conference tournament and then get a bid to regionals.” 

Keeping in mind the importance of the fixtures, Andrews focused on the greater picture.

“Twenty years from now you will not remember how many points you scored or how many minutes you played, but you will remember the relationships you have with your teammates,” she said.

McLendon struck a similar chord when she said, “I would tell all my younger teammates to enjoy these four years. These have been the best four years of my life, and it has gone by so fast. The wins and losses mean so much right now, but at the end of the day, I’m not going to remember much besides the relationships and life-long friendships I have made with my coaches and teammates.”

As the season approaches its decisive stages, the upperclassmen seemed motivated to go out on a high note.

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