Washburn claims dual MIAA titles

Hail The Conquering Heroes Washburn Ichabods Head Coach Bob Chipman (top) and Washburn Lady Blues Head Coach Ron McHenry (above) cut down the nets after last Saturday’s games against Lincoln University. Chipman’s team won a share of the regular season MIAA title while McHenry’s squad claimed the title outright. It is just the fifth time in Washburn’s history that both teams have won the title in the same year. The two teams will open the MIAA tournament as No. 1 seeds this week in Kansas City,

Walking through Whiting Fieldhouse’s entrance, one is greeted by the sight of trophy cases serving testament to the success of Washburn athletics.

With Saturday’s results, it is once again time to make room for more hardware.

For just the fifth time in the history of Washburn basketball, the men’s and women’s teams stand atop the conference at the end of the season simultaneously, having finished with the same result in 1993, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

While the Lady Blues picked up their eighth conference title, the Ichabods picked up their first since 2005.

“It’s great that we got that for [Washburn head coach Bob Chipman],” said junior forward, Bobby Chipman. “It’s something that I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid.”

This year especially seemed to mean more to the head Ichabod as the team makeup, and its personality is something that Chipman cherishes.

“We try to get this kind of group, and it’s tough,” said Bob Chipman. “They’re Topeka guys, Kansas guys and fill in with out-of-staters who are Washburn and four-year guys.”

The team isn’t going to sit on its laurels, however, as they prepare for the one and done format of the postseason.

“We’re coming back to work,” said Chipman. “This is great, but we’re coming back and getting the Army gear on, getting down and getting a little dirty. We need to get better because we want to keep going, keep playing.”

The Ichabods prepare to take on Emporia State for the third time this year in the 199th meeting of the “Turnpike Tussle” at noon this Friday in Kansas City, Mo.

While the Ichabods took a slice of the conference title, the Lady Blues had the chance to clinch the title outright and didn’t let the opportunity slip through their fingers.

“The championship feels great,” said Washburn Lady Blues Head Coach, Ron McHenry. “We knew from day one this group was going to be pretty good. We struggled early on in the season…You know we didn’t have any leaders or anybody who wanted to step up and take the lead. We’ve pulled together some leadership here at the end. It was there they just had to step up and do it.”

Specifically, direction comes from the four seniors on the team in center Cassie Lombardino, and guards Ebonie Williams, Stevi Schultz and Megan Lassley.

In the regular season finale, that leadership was exemplified at halftime in the locker room.

“We weren’t playing like this is a championship game,” said Schultz. “We would have been champions no matter what, but we’ve been saying all week that we don’t like to share. So I said, ‘Lets play. It’s a championship game.’ and we did in the second half.”

Moving forward, the Lady Blues now prepare for the MIAA tournament. As the preseason pick to be the No. 1 seed in the postseason conference field, the team doesn’t feel like there is any added pressure of being the target everyone will be aiming for.

“Normally, I feel like just playing at Washburn we have a little bit of a target on our backs just because it’s a very successful program,” said Schultz. “There’s no extra pressure for us. We’re just going to go out there and play like we do every day.”