With a final
record of 20-10, there were a number of great moments in the 2008-09
women's basketball season, but regrettably, no regional title. The
team bowed out in the first round of the NJCAA Region 19 tournament
in a 49-44 loss to Essex CC on Feb. 23, the same fate they had suffered
in the past two seasons. "They are proving to be our nemesis,"
said Head Coach Mike Tenaglia.
With Mercer the four-seed and Essex the five-seed, the two teams
were practically even going into the tournament. During the regular
season, Mercer had beaten Essex 55-46 on Dec. 11 and lost to Essex
51-49 on Jan. 20. "We had plenty of chances to win the game,"
Tenaglia said. He notes that the Lady Vikes were upset to be knocked
out of the play-offs again, but recognized it would have been difficult
to beat Union CC, which dominated the region all season.
With no standout stars on this year's squad, unity was a key theme,
according to Tenaglia. "The players really liked each other.
When we played well, it was usually because we were playing as a
team," he said. He notes that the Lady Vikes ran hot and cold.
"In some games we played great, but in others we were flat."
Tenaglia achieved a personal milestone with his 300th win on January
31 in a 78-57 win over Salem CC.
In addition to their on-the-court accomplishments, the team also
worked well off the court. "Academically our players were on
track throughout the season," Tenaglia said. "The women
became better at juggling responsibilities - their schoolwork, social
life, and basketball. They learned how to produce under stress.
All of this will serve them well later in life."
Led by captain Carly Blanton, several players made significant contributions,
including freshman forwards Samantha Foley and Kiara Boone, sophomore
center Lauren Jacobsen, and sophomore guards Astrice Michael and
Caitlin Fitzpatrick. In All-Region 19 honors, Samantha Foley was
named to the second team and Kiara Boone was selected to the third
team. In All GSAC selections, Foley was named to the first team,
while Boone and Lauren Jacobsen were selected for the second team.
Looking to next year, Tenaglia expects as many as six players to
return. "That's a nice nucleus; we don't usually have that
many." Tenaglia was assisted this season by Leslie Mauer and