Crusader basketball

Another women’s basketball season has come to an end.

The Valparaiso Crusaders finished the year 10-21, following their 89-60 loss to Green Bay in the second round of the Horizon League tournament.

Although the season as a whole was disappointing, with the Crusaders finishing ninth in the Horizon League at 4-14, Valparaiso was able to advance out of the first round of the tournament for the second straight year.

The Crusaders took down 8th Seed Youngstown State 79-62 behind a strong all-around performance, where four starters were in double figures.

Their win in the first round of the tournament still doesn’t erase the fact that as a whole, this team didn’t play up to it’s potential.

The conference season began with a 10-game Horizon League losing streak. While the Crusaders finished the year winning three out of their last five regular season conference games, they put themselves in such a hole that they finished ninth.

The Crusaders have proven they are able to compete with the top talent in the Horizon League, with wins over Detroit in each of the last two seasons, and multiple close efforts against other top teams. The key is getting from just competing with them, to beating them.

Looking ahead, if the Crusaders are ever going to be able to put together a strong season, you have to believe it’s next year.

The graduating class from this year only includes two players. While Haylee Thompson was a solid role player behind Amber Lindfors, with some of the size from this year’s freshmen class and the incoming recruiting class, they should be able to overcome the loss. The other graduating player is Imani Scott-Thompson.

That means that at this point in time, the Crusaders will return 92.1 percent of their scoring from this past season.

That includes star Dani Franklin, who is coming off of a monster year, where she averaged 18 points a game and nearly eight rebounds.

Along with Franklin, next year’s senior class includes Georgi Donchetz, who is coming off her best season as a Crusader.

This year’s sophomore class which includes Meredith Hamlet, Amber Lindfors, Hannah Schaub and Allison Schofield are all expected to return as well. All four of these players were key pieces this season.

This year’s freshmen class showed promise with strong years from Caitlin Morrison, Grace Hales and Maya Meredith, though it was depleted by injuries a little bit this year due to season-ending knee surgeries to Addison Stoller and Marlee Profitt.

Along with that many key pieces coming back, the coaching staff has been talking about how good this incoming freshman class is for next year. At this point in time, it includes four players, who are expected to fill the gaps that this team was missing this season.

If there was ever a time for the Crusaders program to take a turn in the right direction, next year would be the year. In Dani Franklin’s final season, Valparaiso has the perfect opportunity to make the jump.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.

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