This past weekend, Nov. 11-13, kicked off the season for Missouri Western Men’s and Women’s basketball, with a men’s game taking place directly after the women’s on Friday, Nov. 11 and another Women’s game Saturday, Nov. 12. The women faced off with Southwest Minnesota State University and Upper Iowa University, scoring two victories to start off their season, with final scores of 78-56 and 85-51, respectively. The men played Wayne State college, taking their first loss of the season with a stumble in points in the second half, making the final 57-70. Finally, the men played against Upper Iowa University on Sunday, Nov. 13, just falling short with a final score of 77-68.
The boys had a really strong start to their game against Wayne State, leading in the first half by one point at 30-29. Cole Clearman, junior, stood out with 15 points on the board and a good four assists for his team, and Seth Bonifas trailed close behind with 12 points, a career high and seven rebounds for the Griffons.
The men again took an early lead in their game against Upper Iowa University last Sunday, ending the first half with a one point lead 28-27. On the Griffon athletics page, it tells of some of the score leaders in the game. Outstanding players include Clearman again, with a 22 point game. He had a record seven rebounds alongside Bonifas in this game, and Joe Hamilton, junior, was right behind Clearman, giving the Griffons 11 points.
In response to the girl’s two victories, Rob Edmisson, head coach of the Women’s basketball team, had great things to say about his team.
“They’re a fun group,” Edmisson said. “They’re unselfish. We need that. This year’s team is made different than last year’s. I would like to be better defensively, but they are really going to turn into a great defensive team in time. It’s not a human nature quality, it’s a character thing. Like I said, it’s that they are unselfish. They give up good shots in order to make great ones. No one wants to be the focal point – they all work hard as a team. That is our strongest asset.”
Edmisson doesn’t look to the future. His game plan focuses strictly on the next game – what went well, and how can they improve? Edmisson has 31 years of teaching basketball and this is his 5th year at Western.
“Don’t have any expectations for the rest of the season,” Edmisson said. “That puts external pressure on this team to be a certain way. Go be the best you can be that day. We will reach a lot of goals. I just continue to enjoy it, and I hope they do as well.”
This next week will see the Griffons travel to Minnesota to compete against Minnesota State University-Mankato, and it is expected to be a little more challenging. The plan moving forward for the team is as it has always been. Work hard, play hard and have a blast.
“2-0 is better than 0-2,” Edmisson said. “We’re on our game plan. Lot of travel this next week. This will tell us a lot about our toughness.”
The student athletes are just as excited and determined as the coach. In accordance with the past two games, two students spoke about their game strategies and how they plan on continuing their success.
“Whenever I see (Chelsea Dewey, senior), I give her the ball,” said Dwanisha Tate, senior. “We have a lot of shooters on the team. Helps that everyone is spread out. Everyone has kind of the same speed, so we all kind of match. No mismatches makes for better offense.”
The team is said to be settling as primary shooters instead of secondary ones. In Edmisson’s words, they are learning their roles more and more, getting better at what they do. There were 21 assists and 31 baskets in Saturday’s game, 14 turnovers in the first half at Friday’s game and 26 turnovers on Saturday.
“Continuing to get good at the little things is probably the main priority looking forward,” Edmisson said. “For us, it’s about blocking out, taking care of the ball and, of course, the three primary skills: dribbling, passing and shooting. They understand the game so well. The last eight plays were things that we’ve never done. That’s awesome.”
For the first game of the year, Sefulu Faavae, senior, is very ecstatic and looks to improve even more and dominate a fantastic season. As far as right now, there are certain things to look out for in order to be the best they can.
“I think it’s just us getting our game jitters out of the way,” said Faavae. “Slow down, play our game.”
The men also have very high expectations for the season, however. It may not have started out exactly as they wanted, but they worked really well in the beginning, and their foundation as a team is extremely strong.
“ I enjoy this team,” Edmisson said of the women’s team. “Our community should come out. This sport is pretty high level entertainment. I hope they earn the respect they deserve.”