Williams women's basketball team out to avoid repeat of last year's finish


WILLIAMSTOWN — The members of the Williams College women's basketball team remember the scenario all too well. It is a scenario the Ephs hope to not repeat this season.

On Jan. 8, Williams had just beaten Trinity to go 11-3, and visions of a possible NCAA Division III berth loomed on the horizon. Unfortunately for the Ephs, they finished the regular-season 4-7, lost in the NESCAC tournament quarterfinals and turned in their uniforms weeks before they had hoped.

The Eph women have several goals, and the first is not to repeat what happened last year.

"Absolutely," senior forward Kristin Fechtelkotter said after a recent practice. "We have that in the back of our minds, and the feeling we had after those games. It's just extra motivation going into the season. We're definitely not going to be in that place this year."

Coach Pat Manning will begin her 27th year on Friday afternoon, Nov. 17, when the Ephs host St. Lawrence. It was supposed to be a full Williams Invitational tournament, but one team cancelled. So on Saturday, Nov. 18, Husson will play St. Lawrence, and then Husson will play Williams on Sunday afternoon.

Like the Williams men, the Williams women are back on a Friday-Saturday basketball schedule. For the last two years, the Williams men and women both played a Friday-Sunday schedule. For the next two seasons, Trinity will have the Friday-Sunday schedule.

"The seniors did a great job getting the team ready," Manning said. "They're fit and they're ready to go."

Williams graduated leading scorer Devon Caveney and Lauren McCall. Fechtelkotter is the leading returning scorer, as she averaged 10.4 points per game and led the Ephs with 7.6 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Amanni Fernandez, tri-captains with Fechtelkotter and Lydia Zaleski, only played in 19 of her team's 25 games last year. She suffered an early-season injury and was never fully healthy. This year, the senior from New York City said she's ready to go.

"I'm ready. I can't express what I went through last season, just having to sit out the first half," she said. "Coming back and being ready, it just feels great.

"I'm 100 percent. Actually 110 percent."

A healthy Fernandez gives Williams a threat the Ephs didn't have as much of last year. The senior said she spent most of the summer getting into what she called great shape.

"This summer, I spent my entire summer on the West Coast in Oregon, working at a Nike store. I had a great opportunity to work at some state-of-the-art facilities," she said. "I just really wanted to work on my body more than my game. I wanted to make sure I came in really healthy and fresh.

"Over the summer, that was the turning point for me to feel truly healthy."

Manning said she is excited about the 10 underclassmen on the roster. She has five rising sophomores and five incoming freshmen. Two of the first-year students are 5-foot-10 or taller. That gives Williams 10 players 5-10 or taller.

"We're going to be deep. We're going to be much faster than in the past," Manning said. "It's going to be fun.

"They were chomping at the bit to get going. Everybody else had been going for a couple of weeks, so they were ready to go."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.


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