Perspective: by Jerry Pyle 2-27-90
Perspective: Mom's Near-Perfect Game
It was a pretty good week for Cobber sports. Three wrestlers earned spots in the National Championship Meet. And the Lady Cobber basketball team got to play in a near-perfect game.
The game was not played perfectly. It never is. But it was a team game where our team won. And everybody on the team helped win it.
The setting was almost ideal, at least from a basketball junkie's point of view. A full gym. The Lady Cobbers playing for an outright MIAC title and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA West Regional. St. Ben's, the tenacious host and defending MIAC champion, feeling they had to win to make it into the NCAA's. St. Ben's had a 23 game home winning streak and had beaten the Cobs three years in a row in this gym. St. Ben's was 21-4. The Lady Cobs were 21-4.
Becky Ehnert, the Lady Cobs' lone senior, the one they call "Mom" (as in Mother Goose), went into the game knowing she was the captain and point guard of a team that has won as much with heart as talent. She also knew the Blazers would be sagging off her and trying to make her shoot, something this dedicated passer usually hates to do. She responded by canning five key shots, including a twisting drive in the last minute which gave the Cobs their victory. Mom won the game for us.
Michelle Thykeson, the Lady Cobs' 6'2" junior All-American candidate, took a severe pounding in the paint but still managed to score 19 points before fouling out with five minutes left. Tyk won the game for us.
Rhonda Schneekloth, nicknamed "Turtle", a junior post trapped in a small forward's body, muscled her way inside for 11 points on 4 of 5 shooting. Turtle won the game for us.
Kim Fierke, a slender but strong over-achieving 6'0" junior post, helped hold (sometimes literally) the Blazer's bigger all-MIAC center, Mickey Jerewicz, to just eight points, ten below her average. Fierks won the game for us.
The shooting guards, sophomore Cathy "Tricky" Johnson and rookie Melissa Plante, threw in 14 points between them on a collection of gutsy shots from long range.
Tricky and Planter won the game for us.
Rookie post Kara Shaw, the frail-looking one with a floppy blonde ponytail and hands like velvet, made one key defensive play after another down the stretch as she spelled Thykeson. Shaw won the game for us.
Rookie forward Becky Wilson threw in nine crucial points on a collection of bombs and ferocious drives. Willie won the game for us.
Sophomore forward Jackie Reese, who has spent most of the year battling a pair of gimpy knees, drove past some huge Blazers for a key basket late in the game. Reese won the game for us.
Rookie point Kristi Schultz, Ehnert's feisty backup, got the ball to all the right places and had six assists with no turnovers in the most pressure-packed game of her career. Schultz won the game for us.
Trisha Vorachek, Kelly "Munchie" Cornell, and Karen Spilde formed a vital supporting cast, screaming their lungs out on the bench and keeping people focused in a game where every possession was crucial. Trisha, Munchie, and Spilde won the game for us.
When it was over, "Mom" Ehnert could look around at her gaggle of close-knit teammates with some justifiable pride. She had led a collection of mostly-blonde posts, sophomore shooters and precocious freshman to an MIAC title in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year. She had capped an MIAC career, which included three titles and a 79-5 won-lost record, by hitting the key shots down the stretch in a big game. She had compiled a 45-6 regular-season record in her two seasons as the Lady Cobbers' starting point guard. Over four years her teams are 101-14, with this year's NCAA tourney, Mom's fourth, still ahead.
And Becky had done it her way.
She had done it all with a clear vision that basketball was, after all, just a game. She had done it by placing the needs of her teammates and the importance of their feelings ahead of both personal glory and even the team's won-lost record. She had been the ever-nurturing leader.
One final item about this near-perfect game deserves mention. This team knows they do not live in a vacuum.
Their families and friends help make up a community in which they are allowed to be their best, both as athletes and as people.
A loyal Lady Cobber following of some 200 family and fans made the trip to St. Ben's and turned an otherwise hostile gym into a supportive home-away-from-home. They won the game for us.
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