by Brian Turrel
A winning season came to a disappointingly early end for the Bishop Ward Lady Cyclones on Monday evening. After finishing the regular season 11-2, they lost their opening substate match to the Wellsville Lady Eagles, 37-35.
The 2020-2021 basketball season came with many challenges, and Ward has been able to field only six players on the girls team. Many families opted not to participate this year due to the pandemic. Head coach Dominique Washington and assistant coach Holland Craise were faced with integrating two freshmen and an inexperienced sophomore into the core of the team. In response, they developed a detailed plan for keeping every player in the game every time.
The season started in mid-December, but went on hiatus until Feb. 2 due to virus restrictions. With such a long layoff, the coaches included an hour of 3-on-3 scrimmage at the end of each practice to keep the players in condition.
Once the season resumed in February, in-game management was key, and the coaches “micro-managed” the players by stepping up their verbal instructions on the court. With three games per week, the players needed to stay as fresh as possible mentally and physically. The Lady Cyclones rolled through the compressed schedule with only two losses.
Monday night’s substate game was held at Kansas City Christian School in Prairie Village, since Bishop Ward’s traditional home field at KCKCC is unavailable due to Covid restrictions. A masked crowd of about 150 fans was on hand to watch the contest.
Ward opened with the advantage, getting an early three-pointer from forward Perla Frayre-Delgado and ending the first quarter with an 8-7 lead. Strong inside rebounding from forward Tina Rosales limited the Lady Eagles’ chances.
Foul trouble caught up with the Lady Cyclones in the second quarter. With the short bench, Washington had little opportunity to rotate out guards Nieves Vazquez and Vanesa Otero as they picked up three fouls each in the first half. Wellsville gained some offensive momentum in the second quarter, and went to the break with an 18-17 lead.
In the third quarter, the game remained in reach, but cold shooting and ball-handling turnovers from the Ward offense short-circuited each comeback attempt. With only 4 points in the quarter for Ward, Wellsville went to the final quarter with a 28-21 advantage.
Ward threw its effort into a fourth quarter comeback, but came up just short. Sharpshooter Mercedes Dominguez hit two 3-pointers from the right corner, and Vazquez took two steals for breakaways. With two minutes remaining, Rosales came down hard on her ankle, sending her to the bench. Wellsville hit just enough timely shots to stay ahead until a turnover closed off Ward’s bid for a final shot to win or tie in the closing seconds.
Dominguez led the team with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. Washington praised her shooting after the game, noting, “It’s kind of crazy to see teams ever give her the green light because she’s become very confident in her shot.” Delgado dropped in 9 points, including 4-of-5 at the free throw line.
The Lady Cyclones earned second in the Crossroads Conference this year behind Barstow. They’ll open next year in the new Kaw Valley Conference, a group of six private and religious schools in Kansas City and Topeka.
The Lady Cyclones will lose key seniors Otero and Frayre-Delgado, and they will have some rebuilding to do. Washington is optimistic that some players who didn’t participate this year will be back next seasons to join returning all-conference players Rosales, Dominguez and Vazquez.