Women’s basketball team push through

Photo of Karli Makui preparing to use a ball screen
Noah Reese-Clauson / The Mossy Log

Assistant Coach Kaycie Dunkerley reflects 2022-23 season’s central takeaways

For the women’s basketball team, despite posting a record of 2-23 overall, the unique challenges of this year have pushed the members to respond with their full effort. 

The Lewis & Clark Women’s Basketball team has seen a turbulent shift in circumstance and personnel over the last year. With the departure of eight seniors from the program at the end of the 2022 season, we witnessed a changing of the guard. This placed responsibility onto younger players, slotting them into newfound leadership roles amidst an arduous season.  

Speaking with full time Assistant Coach Kaycie Dunkerley painted  a clear picture, one of adversity and treading new frontiers. 

“It was definitely a team effort on and off the court, we had 11 and we needed all 11,” Dunkerley said. “Of course we had some big injuries that hurt us but still those types of players were able to lead from the bench and in the locker room, which I think is probably some of the most impressive.” 

Jamison Richards ’24 was the 2nd leading scorer during the 2022 season in which the team posted an 11-14 overall record. Richards averaged 12.5 ppg as a sophomore and they would go on to reprise that title the following season, upping their average to 13.9 ppg in just 7 games before a season ending injury. 

“You’re talking like a Jamison, one of our best players on and off the court getting hurt early in the season, and being able to transform into such a key piece for us,” Dunkerley said. “On the bench, in huddles, being able to lead their teammates, I think they were huge for us.”

Dunkerley said other players that have stepped up this season include Karli Mukai ’24, Charlotte Carroll ’24 and Natalie Elstone ’24.

“And then obviously like a Karli, a Charlotte, a Nat, our junior group stepping up and playing big roles on the court and in the locker room,” Dunkerley said. “Playing 40 minutes a game, trying to keep the peace.” 

Mukai had the most noticeable jump out of any player from a statistical perspective, improving her 5.4 ppg average from her 2022 sophomore season, to 14.7 this year. She scored a season high of 38 points on 53% shooting at Whitworth. She captured a number of high scoring outings this season, and earned an all conference spot in her first college season as the go-to scorer. 

Carroll saw a box score jump as well, going from 8 to 12.7 ppg, and 5.8 to 9.7 rebounds a game. Carroll earned her spot as an all conference player as well with this near double double average. 

To paint an even more accurate picture, there were games where seven, or even only six players were available and rotations were airtight. The three aforementioned players, and guard Gabby Beltran ’24 and forward Piper Curry ’25. This is an average of 32.78 minutes per game between all six players, nearly the entire span of a game. 

Coach Kaycie reiterated, “I think they did a good job for how much adversity they faced.” 

Practice conditions and on the court play styles were also affected by a lack of personnel.

“October through February averaging about eight or nine healthy players is just tough, you couldn’t run 5 on 5s, it’s not the same,” Dunkerley said. “You’re getting so far away from the game.”

On the court, their focus leaned towards playing fast and getting out in transition. However, as all athletes are human, they get tired throughout a game. This makes for an ideological dead end when it comes to on the court philosophy, where you know you are at your best doing something you simply cannot sustain due to a lack of options. 

This was likely part of what influenced the implementation of a zone defense into the team’s repertoire, letting the players pick their spots more often and having to cover less ground on the defensive end.  

“We definitely weren’t satisfied with the results and where we ended up, you know, our goal was to be a top 4 NWC team and make the playoffs, especially since they were right on the cusp last year,” Dunkerley said. 

However, Dunkerley is hopeful for the team’s future.

“Our freshmen in 3-4 years are gonna be, in my opinion, some of the hardest working,” Dunkerley said. “(They will) be able to get over any type of obstacle because they endured so much in their first year. Same thing with our juniors, being able to learn so much this year will prep them for a really great senior year.”

When asked about the central theme of next season from a coaching perspective, Dunkerley gave a focused response.

“I think it’s gonna be raising the level of competitiveness, raising that bar and raising our expectations in order to push our players to a different level,” Dunkerley said.

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