VFCC women's basketball starts season 1-2

Photo by Barry Taglieber VFCC guard Morgan Godwin (22) dribbles past Ohio Christian's Katie Fuller (4) during last weekend's Hersha Hospitality Tip-Off Classic.

CHARLESTOWN - The Valley Forge Christian College women’s basketball team is off to a 1-2 start for the 2012-13 season under new head coach Gretchen LeVan.

The Patriots hosted the Hersha Hospitality Tip-Off Classic at The Pit last Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 15-17.

VFCC won its season opener against Grace Bible, 68-63, before falling to Ohio Christian University, 59-53, and then Southeastern University, 56-41, in subsequent contests. Grace Bible College is from Grand Rapids, Mi. Ohio Christian is from Circleville, Ohio. Southeastern University is from Lakeland, Fla.

The Patriots were also in action Friday and Saturday, Nov. 23-24, at the Gallaudet University Holiday Tournament in Washington, D.C.

LeVan played two years of basketball at VFCC before graduating in 2005. She wanted to pursue sports medicine so she attended the University of Pittsburgh before graduating from there in 2008. Her assistant coach is Anthony Merkel.

VFCC is in its first provisional year as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. Therefore, the Patriots were not allowed to start practice until Oct. 15 while other NCCAA schools began workouts and games prior to that time.

This is LeVan’s first coaching job other than volunteer high school work. Originally from Bloomsburg, she participated in athletic training at Pitt.

“I had a rotation in football, basketball and spring track,” said LeVan. “I love it out there.”

She also loves the opportunity to take over a VFCC women’s basketball program that has been on the upswing for the past few years.

“We had two scrimmages and are getting the kinks out,” said LeVan, whose squad took on Rowan and Immaculata prior to the tournament. “We have had a month to prepare. There is a new system that we have to hone in on. We have a lot of players back, which is a huge plus for me. We have experience. Of our seven seniors, six are returners.”

The Patriots are led by 5-7 senior leading scorer Amanda Reich, 5-3 senior Morgan Godwin and 6-3 senior Amanda Compton. All five starters return from a team that finished 18-17 overall, including a 2-3 record at the NCCAA Regional Tournament.

The other returning players are 5-5 senior Vanity Jones, 5-5 senior Aliyah Carr, 5-4 senior Melissa Cicerchia.

The top newcomers are 5-6 senior Whitney LaPointe and 5-11 junior Candace Ingram.

Gone is Keionna Jackson, a 5-9 senior, who shot 43 percent from the field and averaged five rebounds and 1.03 steals per game.

Against Ohio Christian, Reich scored 20 points and also gerabbed nine rebounds while playing a full 40 minutes. She shot 7-for-19 from the field, 1-for-6 from long distance and 5-for-5 at the free throw line. Compton scored 16 points and grabbed 17 rebounds (eight offensive) in 26 minutes. She shot 4-for-12 from the floor and 8-for-11 at the foul line. She also had two assists and two blocked shots.

Godwin, a solid 3-point shooting threat, stuggled from the field aginst the Trailblazers. She shot 1-for-8 overall and 0-for-5 from downtown in 29 minutes. Godwin did have three rebounds, three points and two steals.

Valley Forge CC fell behind, 34-24, at the end of the first half.

The Patriots managed to stay close despite committing 30 turnovers in the outing.

Jones played 36 minutes and had eight rebounds, six assists and two steals togo along with two points. Carr had four points and three rebounds in 25 minutes. Amanda McGinness played 23 minutes off the bench and had four rebounds and two points, Cicerchia played 17 minutes and had four points and three rebounds. Moriah Ransom also saw some court time. LaPointe played 23 minutes against Grace Bible and Patience Ekuta also saw some playing time.

VFCC outrebounded Ohio Christian, 48-29, butg shot 18-for-53 (34 percent) from the field besides turning the ball over at a high rate.

“We had 30 turnovers,” said LeVan. “If we cut that down in half, we would have won the game. We have to figure out our system in setting good screens to get open shots.”

Reich established herself as the school’s career scoring leader during the contest last Friday night. She needed 16 points to Sandy (Paradis) Fray from the Class of 1984, who totaled 1,575 points. Reich bettered the standard on a 3-point play with 45 seconds left in the second half and then boosted it with a trey from the top of the key for the Patriots’ final markers of the fray.

Against Grace Bible, Reich scored 23 points on 9-for-19 shooting from the field with 3-for-6 shooting from long range, two foul shots, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal in 40 minutes. Godwin scored 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting overall and 7-for-10 shooting from downtown, one free throw, four rebounds, one assist, one block and three steals in 40 minutes. Jones scored 10 points with eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 30 minutes. Compton had eight boards, five points, one block and one steal in 28 minutes. Carr had five points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 26 minutes.

“We want to clean up the offense so it is smoother and add aggressive defense,” said LeVan. “Those are things we are adding this year. We have vesatility on offense, that’s for sure. It should be hard for teams to guard us.”

LeVan said the high caliber of competition in the season-opening tourney gave her a gauge as to where the Patriots are and what they have to work on as they strive to return to the national tournament in Ohio this year.

“We have to handle the press,” said LeVan. “We are getting there. I am encouraged coming out of this game. They are ranked No. 2 and we are ranked No. 7.”