Jimmies women's basketball looks to return to the tourney
Jimmies look to improve on a season that saw them go 15-11 overall.
The University of Jamestown Women’s Basketball team is looking to continue their upward trajectory under fourth-year head coach Thad Sankey when they face off against Dickinson State University. The game is set to take place at Dickinson’s Scott Gymnasium at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 21.
The Jimmies come into this season with a mix of veteran leadership and young talent looking to breakout. The team has nine freshmen on the roster and two seniors. The two seniors are Noelle Josephson and Kayla Buchanan. Josephson comes into this season having played at least 24 games in each of her previous seasons, averaging a career total of 7.4 points per game. Last season, Josephson led the team in steals and was named the GPAC Defensive Player of the Year. While Buchanan has played for the Jimmies for the last two years after previously playing at the JUCO level.
“We have this unique situation where we have experienced players, especially our top group is really experienced and really good. At the same time, we have nine freshmen that are on our varsity roster. We have both of those things and that’s part of the unique characteristics of this year's team, usually, you have one or the other, rarely do you have both,” Sankey said. “So, that experience goes a long way...I know for sure our young players have learned a lot over these last seven, eight weeks from our returners.”
This season, the Jimmies will be helped by Hannah Demars. Demars, who is entering her junior season, was a stalwart on the offensive end for the Jimmies last season, leading the team in points per game and rebounds per game, with 17.8 and 7.8 respectively. As a result of her offensive performances, Demars was named as an NAIA and WBCA honorable mention all-American. She was also named to the GPAC all-conference first team.
The 2020-21 season saw the Jimmies compile a 15-11 overall record faltering down the stretch losing four of their last five games. Their only win in the final stretch was earlier this year on Feb. 20, when they beat Dakota Wesleyan 75-69.
While Sankey doesn’t expect one individual to break out this season, he hopes to see a collective step forward from everybody on the roster.
“I think for us this year, I’m expecting a little bit more of a collective breakout. For us as a team taking that next step and seeing the combination of all those players have these small improvements individually that benefit each other and play off each other really really well,” Sankey said.
The Jimmies are trying to make it back to the big dance for the first time since 2018, where they won their conference and made it to the elite eight. That run left a big impression on a recruit at that time and now senior leader, Josephson.
“It would mean a lot, just to go back there because I was able to go and watch them the year before I came and that was awesome and I would love to have that experience...The hunger of knowing what it looks like and seeing that and saying, I want that. We’re going, this is what we’re gonna do to get there,” Josephson said.
The Jimmies look to win their season opener for the fifth consecutive season when they make the trip to Dickinson. The Jimmies and Blue Hawks have faced off 31 times since 2005 with the Jimmies owning a commanding 28-3 record, punctuated by a 24 game winning streak.
“It’s our first game, we haven’t scrimmaged. It’s been a unique year, we haven’t been able to get on the court against a different team yet,” Sankey said. “Tomorrow is step one, it will be good but if we just mindlessly compete and we just roll in and just focus on how hard we play we will put ourselves in a good position.”