On Friday, Jan. 15, the Ferris women’s basketball team took on Wisconsin-Parkside in their home opener inside the Wink Arena.
The Bulldogs started strong with the tip-off with their young core of five freshmen, two sophomores, four juniors and three seniors. The majority of the game showcased freshman guard Kadyn Blanchard as she worked the backcourt with sophomore guard Mallory McCartney. The pair of young guards started for the Bulldogs along with junior forwards Ellie Dykstra and Zoe Anderson, and senior guard Samantha Krauss.
Dykstra, a transfer from Purdue-Fort Wayne, created many open looks on the floor. Those allowed the Bulldogs to get inside towards the basket with screens. She fought hard for rebounds all game long as she posted up on a new court.
“I think Ellie is starting to get a little more comfortable with what we do,” Westendorp said. “Today in the second half we tried to open up the floor a little bit because we felt that we could take them off the bounce and she did a great job of that. Her aggressiveness really picked up; I can say that she’s kind of still finding her way up as she’s a new player on this team, she’s not a freshman but still new to the program.”
In the first period, the Bulldogs edged out a 19-10 lead until Parkside woke up and engaged the Bulldogs in a battle. With some three-pointers and some offensive struggles in the second period, Parkside edged a slim lead as they went into halftime up 42 – 36 on the Bulldogs. However, right out of the halftime break the Bulldogs went to work to defend their home court as they brought the game to within two points in the first three minutes back in action.
Freshman forward and center Ariel Jenkins had a fierce block to defend the basket from Parkside to keep the game tied before a media timeout in the third period. Dykstra got fouled with 35 seconds left in the third and converted the and-one play, however, Parkside answered with a three-pointer to take a two-point lead as the period ended.
“Parkside did a great job moving the basketball and without it but defensively we have to be a heck of a lot tougher than we were today,” Westendorp said. “They did a great job being patient on their offensive end, but we did a pretty good job guarding their first action and their second action, but it was the third and fourth actions that got deeper into the shot clocks or defensive breakdowns.”
The young core of the Bulldogs led the charge as they fought back into the game in the final period as they tied and even took the lead for a few moments until Parkside edged out the victory.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs are grateful to be back in Wink Arena. McCartney said she is beyond grateful for what the players, coaches, and administrators do to fight for them to play every day and it definitely makes her appreciate every second she’s on the court.
“It’s quiet and weird in a way, but also if we get to play there’s not much, I have to complain about,” McCartney said.
“It was great to be playing on our home court, but we really miss the fans, you know we miss having our family there and the Bulldog faithful with us and hopefully, someday soon we can have them all back in here to help us get some of these wins,” Westendorp said.
McCartney seems to have stepped into a leadership role after the departure of many seniors last year and she said it was an honor and a great feeling to have to fill those shoes. She leans on her past teachings and hopes she can be a light for the freshman. McCartney played a pivotal role in the game with 19 points and seven assists. She was joined by Blanchard who stood out with 25 points who led the Bulldogs in scoring.
“We are very young and lost an amazing group of seniors, but we are finding a new rhythm and building a name for ourselves,” McCartney said. “We have a great young group who gets better every day.”
The Bulldogs will travel to Northern Michigan next Saturday, Jan. 23. for a 1 p.m. tip-off as they will look to keep this young core trending upwards.