Boxer Basketball is in full swing as the men’s, and women’s teams continue to succeed in the win column this year. At this point in the season, both teams sit 2-0 in conference games, and both are north of the .500 mark for both their team’s overall records. As a result of those records, both teams sit in the top two spots in the Northwest Conference rankings. The men’s team currently sits in second place, while the women’s team battles for the first place spot.
Starting with the men’s basketball team, sophomore guard Lucas Winkler has been carrying around an open coin purse with how many dimes he has dropped this season. Winkler has been doing so to the point where he is the nation’s leader in assists and assists per game. Over the course of this year, Winkler has dished out 91 assists through eleven games, an average of 8.3 assists per game. That is 28 more assists than a second place behind him, averaging 5.8 assists per game.
“It meant a lot to see that leaderboard,” explained Winkler. “A lot of credit goes to my teammates though. It’s all the work that they put in over the off-season that has allowed for this. But I have always loved getting my teammates involved in the game, so to have success and some recognition for a type of play I pride myself on means a lot.”
As Winkler looks to keep up this production, the team is looking to keep riding the momentum they have earned this year. With their league record being a spotless 2-0 to start the season, the Boxers are looking to take it one game at a time.
“Our coaches have really stressed taking it one game at a time,” stated Winkler. “We can’t think too much about upcoming games and just need to focus on staying healthy, humble, and focused. There are a lot of good teams in this conference. I think we do a good job of focusing on ourselves. We just can’t get complacent. We also have a lot of maturity this year, which has kept us even-keeled and seeing the big picture.”
The team is about to hit the season’s home stretch, where every game matters more and more.
“Our goal every year is to be playing our best basketball at the end of January and February,” exclaimed Winkler. “The expectation is to make the playoffs. Finishing in that top 4 would really show where our program is headed in the future. I want us to have a home-court advantage so everyone on campus can come to watch. We want to do everything we can to put ourselves in a good place at the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, the Women’s Boxer basketball team is looking to repeat and improve their great performance last year, resulting in a trip to the conference championship tournament and the championship game. The Boxers have been a force on both ends, standing second in the Northwest Conference in points scored this season and at the top of the rankings in points allowed. Anchoring down the defense, junior forward Danica Schmidt is leading the Northwest Conference in blocks with 21 in total over eleven games, averaging 1.9 blocks per game. On the offensive side of the game, senior guard Brilie Kovaloff has been on a tear averaging 16.0 points per game on a red-hot .418% shooting. The Boxers are rolling and look to keep it going as the season progresses.
“Everyone is excited to get another chance at the title,” shared junior forward Madi Dunlop. “That’s a huge motivator for us. We want to win the conference. We got a taste last year playing in the championship game, but we would like to go all the way this year.”
The team headed to Florida for a tournament earlier this year, where they went 2-0 with victories over Lawrence University with a nine-point victory with a score of 65-56. The second game was a matchup against Rhodes College, where the Boxers had their way from start to finish with a final score of 72-33.
“Florida was really good for our team chemistry,” said Dunlop. “We played well as a team and got lots of time to bond, and I think the experience made us much stronger as a team.” The Boxers have rattled five wins in a row as they head into the thick of conference play.
The next time both men’s and women’s teams hit the hardwood floor, it will be against conference foes on Friday, January 13, against the University of Puget Sound in a doubleheader. — Zander Breault