by Maddie Mulkigian, Contributor
The Manhattan Women’s Basketball team’s trip to the MAAC Championship was years in the making. While the Jaspers’ championship run was cut short against Fairfield, the team made it clear that they will not be going anywhere.
“When we first came in, that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to be a solid team and to work our way up the ladder,” junior guard Dee Dee Davis said. “To be picked last season as number one and this season to finish in the championship game, it showed that we’re really special and a really talented team. We are a championship contender.”
Despite the devastating championship loss, the team remains confident, motivated and hopeful that they will be back in the final MAAC game next year. The team understands that the preparation for next season begins now and they are doing all that they can to pull out another impressive season.
“We’ve never changed our strategy, never changed our game plan, we just continued to execute what our coaches were asking us to do. They’ve never lowered the bar,” Davis said. “Even our freshman year, it was very tough because they had high standards for us, and this year, it’s no different. We’re doing what we can day in and day out to get back to that championship game next season.”
While every player is aware that they had the grit, talent and capability to beat Fairfield this year, they also understand that their loss stemmed from them not being able to maintain their lead throughout the entire championship game.
“I thought that we could have won that game,” Davis said. “We just ran out of time. In my mind, that’s what I keep telling myself. We led the game the entire time, so if we have another four quarters, in my mind, I think that we could definitely win that game. It’s definitely motivating to feel that we can beat them. It’s also motivating that we’ve lost to them three times. It’s going to push us going forward and push a lot of people on the team because we almost had it and we can definitely get this done. I’m excited. We’re excited.”
While the Jaspers reflect on their season, they recognize that there is more to being a part of a team than the sport itself. One of three seniors graduating from the team this spring, guard Sydney Watkins, used the championship game to reflect on her time as a Jasper.
“As a senior, it’s always bittersweet. I feel like there comes a time where it all becomes a lot, but then we are just very grateful that we even had the chance to be on the team and meet some of the great girls,” Watkins said. “I will forever have friends and sisters because of being on the basketball team and coaches that I know I could always reach out to if I needed to. I’m leaving here so blessed and so happy for my time and I couldn’t have asked for a better four years.”
The team remains proud of what they accomplished throughout the season, but they feel unfulfilled without that championship win under their belt. Key player and guard Emily LaPointe, who was unable to play in the championship after getting a concussion, is focusing on getting healthy in the offseason to compete to her fullest in her upcoming senior year.
“I try not to show it, but when your team is preparing for the championship and you can’t physically be there it’s truly heartbreaking,” LaPointe said. “But, it wasn’t about me in that moment and it was about helping my team figure out how to get the job done. I think we had a lot of people step up and do what they had to do to be successful.”
Whether or not she is on the court or leading the bench, LaPointe acknowledges the work that each one of her teammates put in this season that resulted in the team earning its way into the championship.
“I think Dee Dee needs to be accredited for the game that she had. I think that was probably one of the greatest games in MAAC history, so I know for her she’s probably super excited to get back out there and to have another game like that and to win next season,” LaPointe said.
It is no secret that the Jaspers are ready for their revenge tour in the MAAC conference. The championship loss that resulted in a chip on the team’s shoulder is not going away anytime soon and the MAAC should start preparing for the chaos that the Jaspers will bring to the next basketball season.