Same story, different year.
In the last three regular season MIAA championships, the Lady Blues gave up their first loss to the Lady Hornets of Emporia State, but history wouldn’t repeat itself Wednesday night. Well, sort of.
The No. 5 Lady Hornets went 0 of 14 beyond the arc, and junior forward Brooke Ubelaker finally found her rhythm as she had 19 points leading the No. 1 Lady Blues to their fourth straight MIAA championship with a 73-57 victory Wednesday night.
“I really wanted a victory night, considering this is my last home game of my career. I always knew that we could do it. We have a great team. We’ve always had confidence, and we played with that tonight. It was a really exciting night, and it’s a perfect way for me to go out,” said April Roadhouse, senior point guard.
Perfect way to go out, Roadhouse and crew are getting closer to exactly that as they extended their winning streak to 44, 25-0 on the year and 14-0 in the MIAA.
“It’s hard to put into words, because we really don’t talk about it. You might think we talk about it, but we really don’t. We tried to come out and have some really good practices this week. I could tell the kids were ready to go. We’ve been practicing well, and, knock on wood, staying healthy,” said Ron McHenry, head coach. “You just try to go on to the next day. We’re in a routine right now, and we’ve been able to stay in that. It’s really worked for us. When you do that, you’re not thinking about what your accomplishing, you’re just trying to play. I like this group, because half this team I don’t think knows what our record is honestly, they just like to play.”
Playing may be what they like, but winning is what they do and for seniors Roadhouse and Dani McHenry, that was epitomized Wednesday as they earned their fourth straight MIAA championship.
“April and Dani are part of the championships. That’s almost unheard of in this day and age, especially in this conference. I’ve had some good players, and a combination of a lot of hard work. But it really does come down to the players,” said Ron McHenry.
Roadhouse and Dani McHenry continue to add to their career records for the most wins, with 116 wins and just 11 losses.
“Coming to Washburn, I knew it was a good program. But then again, it is just one year at a time. After last year when we won it, I started to think maybe I could win four in a row, and that wouldn’t be too bad, but that was not the focus at the beginning of the season. This was the game, senior night, last home game, maybe or maybe not. So we all put ourselves out there, we didn’t have a game Saturday, so we just put our hearts out for this game, because we wanted it so bad,” said Roadhouse.
Although Wednesday was the game, Roadhouse isn’t too concerned with the possibility of having to match up with Emporia State two more times this season, in the MIAA tournament and in the South Central Regional.
“We saw them four times last year, and it didn’t phase us at all. It gets tougher the more times you play them. Dani and I have seen them for four years, so we know all the offenses they have and they know ours. It just comes down to player vs. player, team vs. team. That’s who is going to win in the end. It’s exciting to play them four times, because it really brings that rivalry to life. It’s nice to play a no name team in regional, especially, but I’d rather play [Emporia State], because we know their style of play and their rivals so we have something to hold on to,” said Roadhouse.
The Lady Blues had this past Saturday off, but will defend their 44-game winning streak this week on the road against Northwest Missouri State Wednesday and Central Missouri State Saturday.
“We have a couple more to go. We are off this Saturday, which will calm us down a little bit. Last time we beat Emporia in a big game at their place we had to come right back and play. So this gives us a couple days to enjoy the championship and to refocus and regroup for Wednesday’s game,” said Ron McHenry.
The Northwest Missouri State Lady Bearcats are 14-11 so far this season and ranked No. 6 in the conference with a record of 6-8. The Lady Bearcats have already clenched a spot in the MIAA tournament and will look to finish a scare they started last January, as they stayed with the Lady Blues for most of the game before falling 84-71.
“Our whole team loves to play. We have fun playing basketball. Yeah, we won the championship and they can’t take that away from us. But then again, we still have 11 games, we still haven’t met our end goal, which is nationals, back to back,” said Roadhouse.
The Central Missouri State Jennies will look to continue their streak as well, when they host the Lady Blues Saturday. The Jennies have won eight straight including Emporia State at Emporia. The Jennies are ranked third in the conference with a record of 10-4, 18-7 on the season.