For three seniors on the Northwest women’s basketball roster, it has come down to the final competitive moments of their careers as Bearcats and for them, the road to the present hasn’t been an easy one.
When senior night occurred Feb. 26 against conference-rival Missouri Western, Northwest (7-19, 3-9 MIAA) honored three seniors who have been through multiple coaching changes, experienced roller-coaster-like seasons and battled injuries along the way.
Forwards Maria Dentlinger and Kaylani Maiava and guard Mallory McAndrews were honored at center court, accompanied by their families, standing in front of the Northwest faithful at Bearcat Arena one last time. In 233 combined games played between the three athletes for the Bearcats, it all came down to one more home game in Maryville.
“I’ve been very thankful to have them in year No. 1 for me,” coach Austin Meyer said. “For Maria and Mallory to be part of the program for four years and to come into the gym every day with great attitudes says a lot about what we’ve got here.”
McAndrews is tied for the fourth most threes (139) made in Northwest women’s basketball history. Dentlinger played her 100th career game for the Bearcats against the Griffons, while Maiava played in her 50th career game.
While the three seniors didn’t get the chance to be a part of the Meyer era of Northwest women’s basketball for very long, Meyer likes to think they laid the foundation for the future.
“These girls have trusted me coming in as a first-year guy, bought into what we are trying to do and just bring it every day while being a good person,” Meyer said. “They’re great kids, and I hope they know that had a part in selling Northwest to the future of our program.”
As postseason play is out of the conversation for Northwest, Dentlinger is trying to finish with a competitive mindset to help the Bearcats end their ten-game winning drought.
“The season obviously hasn’t gone exactly how we had hoped,” Dentlinger said. “I think the program is making huge strides toward the future, and it would be great if we could go out with a couple wins.”
Putting wins and losses aside, this Northwest women’s team chemistry has been notably higher than many other seasons in the past, according to Dentlinger. She has created memories that will last a lifetime in her Bearcat basketball uniform.
“We are an undeniably close team,” Dentlinger said. “Hanging out in hotels and playing games on the bus will definitely be memories I take with me after leaving here.”
Northwest’s final game of the 2018-19 will come Feb. 28 in Topeka, Kansas, as the Bearcats take on Washburn. During the first meeting between the two schools in Bearcat Arena, the Ichabods left with a 21-point victory. Washburn is tied for second place in the MIAA conference.
“We want to come out, compete and play with energy while being into the game,” Meyer said.
“That’s all the more I can ask of them.”