ANKENY, Iowa—The Faith Eagles women's basketball team, unlike the men's team, will look very similar to last year's squad—a squad that featured mostly freshmen, and won eleven games, including five of its last seven.
Coach Brian Fincham's 2018-19 team returns 82% of its scoring and 75% of its rebounding from a season ago, all from its freshmen class.
As the late Al McGuire once said, the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. That is certainly the case with this strong sophomore class led by Lyndi Shepard, a second-team All-Conference performer from a year ago, who led the Eagles in scoring at 17.3 points per game. Bekah Smith anchors the post and was also an All-Conference performer as a freshman, averaging 8.1 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks. They are joined by a slew of additional sophomores who made strong contributions to last year's team: Mackenzie Hanson (6.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game), Michaela Crider (8.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game), Alicia Smith (1.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game), and Janet Busenitz (1.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game).
The biggest hole to fill from last year is the graduation of Shannon Steffen, who averaged 9.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals, but Coach Fincham believes freshman Karina Fritz will step in and fill the void left by Steffen. Fritz played some varsity basketball for the Ankeny Centennial Jaguars a year ago as a graduating junior. Centennial is a perennial basketball powerhouse in Iowa girls high school basketball.
The girls' season gets started Tuesday night in Lincoln, Nebraska against Union College, a team that struggled last year. The girls return home for games against Providence this Thursday, and then two games in the Faith Classic on Friday and Saturday against Ozark Christian College and Randall University.
Within conference play, Coach Fincham expects Emmaus to be the team to beat. Manhattan Christian and Calvary will be formidable conference foes as well and Coach Fincham believes a finish in the top three of the conference is a realistic goal.