By JESSE JONES
Coach Deena Applebury and the University of Mary Washington women’s basketball team head into the 2016-2017 basketball season ranked No. 20 in the country in the D3Hoops.com preseason poll and No. 22 in WBCA poll. After finishing the 2015-2016 season with a 24-5 overall record and earning the team’s sixth ever CAC Championship, the team has high aspirations for this year.
The team capitalized on their phenomenal record as they played in their 10th NCAA Division III Tournament, seven of which have been under Coach Applebury; who also won her 300th game last season.
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, the team will head to Lexington, Virginia to take on in-state rival Washington & Lee to start their season. The Eagles plan to utilize seniors Megan Green and Brianne “Breezi” Comden’s on-court experience and leadership to help them get back to the top and compete for another CAC Championship.
Comden, who is a team captain for the program, earned many individual awards of her own last year. She scored her 1,000th career point, doing so in just three seasons and led both her team as well as the CAC with 15.5 PPG and a 58.4 FG PCT.
These tremendous accomplishments earned her an Honorable Mention All-America selection and a spot on the First Team All-CAC list.
Sophomore Kendall Parker, another one of the team’s veterans looks to continue to help contribute to her team’s success while remaining humble.
“I want to help my team in any role they need me to play. Getting better at something every day and help my teammates do the same is my number one priority,” Parker said.
Parker, who made an appearance in all 29 games, averaged just over 10 points a game, while shooting 39.4 percent from the field and an impressive 43.2 percent from the three-point line. Parker’s goal is nothing shy of another NCAA tournament bid. “I want to become back-to- back CAC champs and get very far in the tourney,” Parker said.
“Our first game on Tuesday will be used to set the tone of our season. It will be one of the few times we will have had competitive 5v5 action, aside from practice, so it will be a good test,” Comden said. “Although W&L isn’t a CAC opponent every game matters so we’re still going to play to the best of our ability and hopefully come out on top.”
Like Parker, Comden wants to get back to the conference championship and then ultimately to the NCAA tournament in her final season.
“My best friend Emma Olson and the women’s volleyball team just won a conference championship last weekend and have the opportunity to host the next round and I am so unbelievably proud of them. I guess you could also say I’m a bit jealous and going through some nostalgia though as I miss that feeling and can’t wait to hopefully feel it again,” Comden said.
Other key players like CAC Rookie of the Year Elizabeth Dofflemyer, McKenzie Jenkins and Taylor Barton will have large roles in continuing the program’s success.
The Eagles host the Hyatt Place Tip Off Tournament at Rosner Arena beginning Saturday Nov. 19, competing against Virginia Wesleyan, Averett and Alvernia.