Women's Basketball 2017-2018 Season Recap

Emmaus Women's Basketball Awards 2018
As the 2017-2018 Lady Eagles basketball season came to an end, this was the 3rd consecutive year that they found themselves a successful ending. However, this season didn't begin that way. With 12 NAIA programs on the schedule this year, the Emmaus Ladies would begin the season with 7 straight losses (all against NAIA programs). "We felt in order to compete with the top teams nationally in the NCCAA that we needed to prepare by playing an extremely tough schedule. It makes sense to play these bigger schools in our area if we can compete. It's better for the girls academically because we get home that same night; it's better for the school financially because we don't have to drive as far and pay for hotels, and if we keep it under 15-20 points, then I know we got better that night," said Coach Graw. At one point, the Lady Eagles would find themselves tied in the 4th quarter with 6 minutes to go against NAIA DI powerhouse William Penn University (23-8). Our young Emmaus team commitment was being tested as they ended the first semester with just a 3-8 record.
 
Second semester proved to be a different story as the Lady Eagles went on a 5 game winning streak fresh out of Christmas break. They finished with a 7-3 record for the month of January but with a bad loss against regional rival Maranatha Baptist University which included 30 turnovers, 27 % shooting from the field, and 21 % shooting from the three point line. "With Maranatha being a well known road block to the NCCAA National Tournament, I started to question our rotation after our performance in this game," Coach Graw mentioned. The final straw would be on February 2nd on the road against MCCC rival opponent, Manhattan Christian College; the Lady Eagles struggled mightily and lost the game by 19. Coach Graw had this to say, "We had a defensive line up playing the bulk of the minutes and Manhattan shot 47 % from the field, 56.3 % from 3, and 83 % from the free throw line. It was clear after this game that if we wanted to compete at the end of the year, we needed to score the ball and we needed another offensive threat to take away the double teams and defensive pressure that Madison and Tiffany were experiencing. We also needed some muscle in there to bang against bigs to give Tiffany some relief. Offensive balance and muscle is what we needed if we were going to make a run at the end of the season." On Saturday the 10th of February, Coach Graw would insert two freshman into the starting line up against Central Christian College of the Bible, a pure shooter in Kristen Morry and a strong post in Ajah Ackerman. "Kristen had already had 5 games in the season in which she had hit over 5 three's in each game. We needed her to shoot and be a threat so that teams couldn't focus their defense on Tiffany and Madison. We knew Ajah would give us solid rebounding, defense, and finish underneath the basket," said Coach Graw. Morry would end up with 8 threes that game as the Lady Eagles would sore past CCCB by the final score of 74-47.  
 
Post season began with the MCCC Conference tournament held at Manhattan Christian College in Manhattan, Kansas. Lady Eagles sailed past Ozark Christian (87-33) and Faith Baptist (80-40) and got a shot at Manhattan Christian again in the MCCC conference championship. The Lady Eagles lossed by the final score of 68-66, and while disappointed in the loss, they came away encouraged and playing much better basketball. Tiffany Williams finished with 24 points on 53 % shooting while Madison Laib finished with 21 points on 39% from the field and 43% from three. Morry only got up 4 shots that game, but it was clear that Laib and Williams were no longer the defensive focal point as Manhattan would face guard Morry all game which allowed Laib and Williams to go to work on the offensive end and attack the basket at will. Laib and Williams combined for 10/12 from the free throw line. The Lady Eagles recorded a season low in turnovers (13) and fought until the very end, but came up short as Williams fouled out with 4 minutes left in the game. A valiant effort by these young Lady Eagles.
 
The following week the Emmaus ladies entered into the NCCAA Regional Tournament as the #1 seed and received a buy in the first round. Faith Baptist won their first round game and advanced to play Emmaus for the 4th time this season. Faith came out fighting in the early minutes as they went up 8-2 in the first 3 minutes of the game and finished the 1st quarter with a 13-12 lead. Lady Eagles bounced back in the remaining 3 quarters and defeated Faith 63-46 led by Madison Laib's 32 points (12/24 from the field, 4/8 from three, and 4/4 from the free throw line). Emmaus advanced to play Maranatha Baptist university in the NCCAA Regional Championship with the trip to nationals on the line for both teams. The previous games between the two teams resulted in a 13 point win for Emmaus at Maranatha followed by a 13 point win for Maranatha at Emmaus. Both teams came ready to play as Maranatha crashed the boards with 27 rebounds in the first half (19 offensive) and Emmaus knocking down 8 threes going into halftime. The Lady Eagles would pull away after the break continuing to shoot lights out and limiting Maranatha to just 9 offensive rebounds in the second half on their way to an 85-66 win and the NCCAA Regional Championship. Emmaus was led by Tiffany Williams who ended with 27 points, 17 rebounds, and 3 blocks, Kristen Morry with 25 points (8/11 from three point line), and Madison Laib with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. 
 
Next up: the 2018 NCCAA National Tournament held in Greenville, South Carolina at Bob Jones University. Emmaus entered the national tournament as the #4 seed against the home team Bob Jones as the #5 seed. The Lady Eagles dominated the rebounds with a 62-46 advantage (29 offensive) but there seemed to be a lid over their basket only shooting 25% from the field and 16% from the three point line. Coach Graw had this to say, "We felt that defensively we played well enough to win if your offense was firing on all cylinders. I don't believe I've ever lost a game in which we out rebounded the other team by 16 and snatched down 29 rebounds. Sometimes you just don't shoot the ball well and that's okay. We believe that when you control what you can control then you can be satisfied with how you played no matter the outcome, and that is exactly how we feel." Madison Laib would lead the lady eagles with 21 points, 19 rebounds (Career High), and 5 assists. Tiffany Williams would add in 20 points and 13 rebounds followed by Marissa Kerttula's 8 points and 11 rebounds (10 offensive). Emmaus fell to Bob Jones University by the final score of 64-75. 
 
The Finale
 
With Emmaus and Manhattan losing in the first round they would once again meet up in each teams final game of the season at the National Tournament. Emmaus came ready to play as they began the game on a 16-0 run. Their 2 point loss to Manhattan in the MCCC conference championship must have been in the back of their minds because even though it may have been a 10:45 am consolation game, it was clear that Emmaus wanted it. "I guess I should have assumed that we would come out fighting like that, but to be honest I did not expect to be up 16-0. But even with that lead, we knew how good Manhattan was and knew that, without a doubt, they would make a come back and play at a high level. The motivation factor was the biggest key in this game. We had lost twice to this team including the conference championship by 2, and we had 3 seniors including 1 starter playing in their last game of their career. We wanted that game more point blank and that is why we won, " said Coach Graw. In her last collegiate game Madison Laib would post 28 points (11-19 on 65%), 11 rebounds, 4 blocks, 4 steals, and 3 assists followed by Tiffany Williams 21 points and 7 rebounds while holding the opposing teams best player to just 5 total points. 

"What I am excited about is to see how our seniors finished out their careers and have passed the torch to our "Next up" underclassmen. Our seniors (Madison Laib, Sharon Tomlinson, Erin Edmondson, and Rachel Tomlinson) started this program with me from the bottom up, and their commitment and sacrifice is embedded in the foundation of this program. Our future is bright with an abundance of talent on our roster and underclassmen that played valuable minutes for us this year. We have a group of young ladies that are ready to step up and make this program their own as we pursue excellence in this next phase. Our mission is to honor Christ and further the kingdom with the skills and talents that He has given us. Our commitment to this team is based on honoring Christ and laying down our lives for our teammates unconditionally and sacrificially as we strive to be Philippians 2:1-11 teammates."

2018 Women's Basketball Awards