After securing the No. 8 in the MIAA Tournament this past week, the Griffons drew Washburn for the second straight season.
This year, the Lady Blues were the top-seed, and still knocked Missouri Western from the field and its season ended. Western’s season ended at 7-20, but the final game wasn’t the last of the news heard about the team.
Less than 24 hours after the finals buzzer sounded, Athletic Director Kurt McGuffin let go head coach Lynn Plett after a 46-89 record and no tournament wins. The season wrapped up, but next year is already starting, as McGuffin has already instituted a group that will search for a new coach.
Before next season begins, the 2011-12 team did take the floor and did produce seven victories. One of the big stories heading into the year was starting guard Ashleigh Curry’s return to the court. The senior had not played since the 2006-07 team, yet decided to return to school and use her one last season of eligibility to try and help Western win.
“I think I grew a friendship with everybody on the team. This team is different,” Curry said. “I wish everybody the best of luck. I’m not an emotional person, (but) this team is great”
Things were rocky from the beginning, however. Nothing Curry did wrong kept her from playing, but the guard sat all non-conference and the first several games of conference season.
The 26-year-old missed the games due to playing for semi-pro team Livin’ the Dream while she did not attend Western. She also practiced with the 2010-11 team which could have cause problems, so McGuffin wanted to make sure no illegal action happened during that year.
After Curry arrived, star forward Jessica Koch’s magical career had yet another twist — the senior achieved the all-time career point total for the Griffons. With 1,776 points, Koch is and will have the most points for a long time.
“I’ve had such a blast this year,” Koch said. “It wasn’t negative. It was a very positive year. And I love all these girls. Even though we lost (to Washburn), it was a great year for us. And I love Missouri Western.”
Western’s season spiraled down after winning three conference games in a row in early January. The Griffons lost 10 of their next 11 games, and had to defeat Southwest Baptist on the final day to make it to the MIAA Tournament.
They did just that, but after one game into the tournament, the team’s season was over. Plett said despite the wins not happening, the team worked hard.
“They set a work-ethic standard,” Plett said. “My hope is that it carries on.”
Western loses five seniors — Koch, Curry, Abby Stone, Brittany Casady and Alex Noble — but returns scorers Kallie Schoonover, Alicia Bell and Brittany Griswold, who missed final two months of the season with a foot injury.
Whoever McGuffin chooses as the next coach to lead the women’s team will more than likely recruit hard for scorers and post-play, and hope that Western can climb out of the bottom and have a quick turnaround soon.
“The seniors taught us great work ethic,” Schoonver said. “That’s something no one can take away. We gotta come back, from day one, work our butts off to get revenge, not only for ourselves but for the seniors that won’t be here with us.”