Successful senior night for Senecas

Maybe it was wanting to get ready for the tournament. Maybe it was the desire to send the seniors off on a high note. Maybe it was junior Olivia Smith rapping the huddle.

Maybe it was all of the above.

Whatever the reason, the Calvert Senecas came out inspired.

Calvert led all but nine seconds Thursday against Lakota. That was the time it took for Nicole Bickley to score the game’s first points after the tipoff. Not much changed over the next 31:51 as the Senecas rolled past the Raiders 71-31 in the regular season finale.

It was a night where Calvert honored its three seniors – Megan Funkhouser, Alanna Widman and Marisa Horn. But, it was a junior stealing the show.

Kate Brickner set a school record knocking down eight 3-pointers, on her way to a 28-point night.

“I was so excited the whole night,” Brickner said. “I wanted to play my best for our seniors. I wanted them to have a good win, a night to remember. I just wanted to play my hardest. If I was making them I was going to keep shooting.”

Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said he knew Brickner was having a good night, just not how good. Although, judging from the roar of the crowd when he sunk her eighth trifecta with 15 seconds left in the third quarter, he figured something special just happened.

“She just shot the ball extremely well. We had her down 8 of 10 on 3s,” Ritzler said. “Throughout the game I knew she was shooting well. I wasn’t sure how many she was at. By the eruption I kinda figured that was probably the one that broke it, but I wasn’t sure. But she’s somebody that’s been able to shoot the ball well for us all year and tonight she was just on fire.”

Brickner’s performance helped make it a special night for the departing seniors.

“It was fun, it was exciting,” Widman said after scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds in her final home game. “I’m going to miss it. I love playing here. It’s always fun, and there’s never a dull moment on the court. I love my team because we never ever are selfish or anything like that.”

Brickner echoed the sentiments about the team wanting to make it a fun night.

“We just wanted to have fun,” Brickner added. “That’s what we said when we came up; that’s we said in our huddle. We all had fun. It was just a good game for us. We just executed, everyone played hard. It was a good game for everybody.”

It may have been a jovial atmosphere in the huddles, but once Calvert took the court, it was all business. The Senecas came out hot on both ends of the floor, racing out to a 21-4 lead after one quarter.

“It was just a team effort,” Widman said. “We passed the ball really well and we just so happened to put the ball in the basket right away instead of coming out flat like we normally do.”

According to Widman, it was the same team effort that allowed Calvert to excel on the defensive end.

“We play really good help defense and we talk really well on defense which is really helpful,” she said. “When anyone needs help, someone’s always there to help out. It’s just a team effort right there.”

Widman and Horn, usually playing in a reserve roll, were moved into the starting lineup Thursday and Ritzler said the team never missed a beat.

“Even though we changed out starting lineup a little bit, starting all the seniors, it was good to see us come out and get off to a good start and keep playing the way we have the last couple games, keep playing well, keep playing our best basketball getting ready for the tournament,” he said. “It was good to see no matter what lineup we went with, we seemed to execute well. We were finding the open person, just doing the things we’re supposed to do.”

Ritzler praised the efforts of his seniors.

Horn chipped in five points and Funkhouser, while being held scoreless, grabbed five rebounds and was instrumental in a defensive effort that held Lakota to a 20 percent (10 of 50) shooting night.

“It’s an emotional night for the seniors their last game on their home floor,” Ritzler said. “(Funkhouser) probably let her emotions get the best of her a little bit. … Tonight it was good night for Alanna to get her points. I thought Marisa did an excellent job running the point, finding the open people. It was good to see all three seniors play well in their last game.”

Things weren’t all bleak for Lakota coach Mike Miller. After the game, Miller said he was pleased with how his team kept battling in the second half.

“We played a lot more aggressive in the second half offensively (and) moved the ball good,” he said. “I took a lot of positives out of it. We’re towards the bottom of the league, they’re right up at the top, second in the league, and we played them very tough in the second half. I was proud of the way they kept fighting.

“The difference between the first and second half is the way they played together as a group. Defensively they helped each other out when someone got beat. They were there for each other.”

Katie Park led Lakota (3-18, 1-9 Midland Athletic League) with 11 points.

In addition to Brickner’s big night Calvert (16-6, 8-2) got 14 points and nine rebounds from Bickley.

Ritzler said after he feels his team is peaking at the right time.

“I think we’re playing out best basketball of the season,” he said. “We’ve beaten a couple of tough opponents. We got a good win tonight (and) we played well. We’re shooting the ball really well right now. I think we’re right where we want to be and hopefully we keep it up.”