“I believe that we can play. I believe that we can score. I believe that we can win.” As we chant in the women’s locker room the excitement builds each time we say these words in unison. We squeeze each other’s hands tight in our pregame prayer and set our minds on our collective purpose that is greater than ourselves: to sell out for each other, this community, and for Christ. The jitters build until we slap the doorframe and rush into the gym as a unit. Pre-game routines are followed to a T, as to prevent any jinx, and then the buzzer sounds to end warm-ups. Our rituals, secret handshakes and specific order to stand in line during the National Anthem are all necessary components to preparing ourselves for the battle ahead.
George Fox women’s basketball opened up our season by hosting the Tip-Off Classic followed by a quick trip to the Midwest to take on some of the D-III powerhouses in Milwaukee. There were high hopes as well as high pressure for these two weekends that would play a large role in postseason regional and national rankings.
The first test was Friday night as we took on the Trinity Tigers, who made the trip up from Texas with the reputation of carrying a preseason All-American on their roster. The Tigers competed with us for a while until the speed, tenacity and relentlessness of our pressure wore them out. A similar occurrence took place the following night as the Bruins went after the LaVerne Jaguars from Orange, Calif.
The stress of the first two games that “matter” was over. We did it, 2-0! Although we had played a few exhibition games prior to the weekend, these were the first two games that would show up on our record and be a basis for our evaluation. There was no time to rest or feel accomplished when we had less than a week to prepare for our potentially most challenging games of the preseason. Wisconsin-Whitewater was ranked as high as ninth in the nation for this season and we were going to face them Friday. The next day we would turn around and play Wisconsin-Lutheran, who was not only picked to win their highly competitive league but also has one of the best post players in the country. It’s safe to say that weekend was huge.
I will spare you the dramatics of bloody noses, concussions and shot clock buzzer-beaters and skip straight to one of the best comebacks I have ever been a part of. After battling past Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Warriors from Wisconsin-Lutheran posed a major problem for our team for the first half of the game. They relied heavily on the presence of their 6-foot-3 post and our less than ideal shooting percentage to maintain a comfortable 15-point lead for most of the game. We continued to grind it out, never letting up on our pressure or getting discouraged by their timely three-pointers with less than 10 minutes to go in the game. With about eight minutes to go we caught fire and hit consecutive three-pointers while causing turnover after turnover for the Warriors. In a matter of minutes we not only came back from the deficit but also took the lead with less than three minutes to go in the game. Our entire team was ecstatic as we broke the spirit of the players and the crowd and shocked them with our comeback. As the buzzer sounded we erupted with joy and pride at the accomplishment. This wasn’t just about winning the tournament, defeating nationally ranked teams or being 4-0, it was about the most incredible team win. This win encapsulated who we are as a team; a group of fighters that will stick together until the end and work hard every second we step between the lines.