By Benjamin Wideman / Director of Media Relations and Sports Information
UNIONTOWN, Pennsylvania — The Silver Lake College women’s basketball team didn’t go down without a fight.
Playing in a consolation game at the United States Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division 1 National Championships, the Lakers found themselves trailing The Apprentice School by 14 points in the second half on Thursday.
The No. 4 seed Lakers battled back and were within four points with less than two minutes remaining, but they fell 81-74 to the No. 8 seed Builders, ending one of the best seasons in the history of Silver Lake College basketball.
“It showed the resiliency of our team,” said Lakers head coach Mike Flentje, whose team finished the season 21-7 and was competing at the national championships for the first time in two decades. “After a heartbreaking loss (in Wednesday’s quarterfinals), I wasn’t sure what to expect. But they came together as a team and never gave up.
“We aren’t coming back with a national championship this year, but not too many players can ever say they even had a chance to compete for a national title.”
SLC senior guard Kaela Cheesman of Rolla, Mo., concluded her college career with a team-high 14 points, including four three-pointers. Her three-point basket with 2:45 remaining closed the deficit to 74-70 — one of three times in the final 4:42 that SLC got within four points.
Other seniors playing their last game for the Lakers were forward Courtney Clavers of Brillion (eight points, five rebounds), forward Raelyn Woock of Burnett (six points, seven rebounds, five blocks), and guard Marissa Senglaub of Manitowoc (three rebounds).
“Having all four seniors on the court together at the end of the game, it was emotional for them and me,” Flentje said. “They all had outstanding careers.”
Junior guard Amanda Kudick of Kewaunee added 12 points, six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Sophomore forward Danelle Buck, a former Valders High School standout, recorded a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Buck’s basket with 6:41 left in the third quarter put SLC ahead 44-42 for its first lead of the second half.
Also contributing for the Lakers were junior guard Jordan Barbeau of Iron Mountain, Mich. (four points, team-high three steals), sophomore guard Danielle Byrum of Sheboygan (six points on two three-pointers), junior guard Abby Gerhard of Iron Mountain, Mich. (two points), freshman forward Hailee Kotche of Manitowoc (six points, two rebounds), and freshman guard Ashley Rumlow of Oshkosh (five points, three assists).
SLC shot 51.5 percent (17-of-33) from the field in the second half of Thursday’s game, and finished the game at 41.2 percent (28-of-68). That was a significant improvement from Wednesday’s game, when the Lakers shot 31.4 percent from the field.
The Apprentice School of Newport News, Va., was led by Ylexzis Traeger’s 22 points and 10 rebounds.