Sports

Walk-On Leads Whitworth Into Battle Davis Now Starter, Captain After Starting From Scratch

Kristen Davis vividly remembers the nervous energy that raced through her mind during the first game she played for the Whitworth College women’s basketball team.

“I was so nervous because I had walked on, and I was so concerned about if this was what I should be doing. … and if I was good enough,” she said, her eyes widening as she relived the memory. “But it felt really good to play.”

That was two years ago. Davis, now a senior, handles the ball with the acquired skills of a veteran. Named team captain by a unanimous vote, she embraces the role of team leader on and off the court.

“I want to be whatever the team needs me to be,” said Davis, a guard who averaged 5.1 points per game last year.

Davis’ unselfish attitude also has caught the attention of fourth-year Whitworth coach Helen Higgs.

“She’s a good listener, willing to challenge herself and do whatever she thinks the team needs,” said Higgs, whose team finished 13-11 overall, 9-7 in the Northwest Conference last season. “She’s the person who will give you consistency in every game. If we’re ever looking unstable, she’ll be put in.”

Davis, who began playing at age 5, was introduced to basketball by her parents, Jan and Jerry Davis. Both coached basketball at Curlew High.

At Curlew, Davis set a Washington State B record by scoring nine 3-pointers in one game. She was also named to the first team All-Panorama League four times.

Davis, attending Whitworth on an academic scholarship, originally decided to forego college hoops. But she missed the game so much she joined the Pirates near the end of her freshman year. By the middle of her sophomore year, she was a starter.

Davis, one of a handful of injured players last year, underwent right shoulder surgery in the spring. Although she’s physically recovered, she said her mental game still suffers.

“It’s been a real challenge getting my old game back, but it’s getting there,” she said, unconsciously rubbing her right shoulder.

At 5-foot-5, Davis is one of the two smallest players on a team whose tallest players are 5-11.

Higgs’ biggest concern is the early injuries. Courtney Carr, a 5-8 junior from University High, and Myra Slwooko, a 5-6 guard from Alaska, will miss the season. Both suffered ACL injuries. Freshman Kelly McKee, a 5-5 point guard who earned All-State honors in Montana last year, has stress fractures in both her shins. She’s expected to be back the first weekend in December.

Aside from the Curlew standout, the Pirates will rely on the experience of leading returning scorer, 5-9 senior starter Andrea Sherer (7.7 points per game). Freshmen Mindy Bandy (5-10) of Wilbur and Jamie Wakefield (5-9) of Mead also will be counted on. The Pirates opened their season Nov. 21, losing 75-54 at Montana Tech.

Conference play begins Dec. 5 at George Fox, followed by a trip to Willamette on Dec. 6.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHITWORTH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AT A GLANCE

FACTS Coach: Helen Higgs (fourth year). Assistant coachesLori Natier, Nathan Dunham. 1996 record: 13-11, 9-7 in NCIC. Players to watch: Sr. Kristen Davis (5-5, G), Sr. Andrea Sherer (5-9, F), So. Star Olson (5-8 G), So. Emily Stuenkel (5-8, G). Key newcomers: Fr. Jamie Wakefield (5-9, F), Fr. Mindy Bandy (5-10, F). Bonus points Higgs, 40-40, will attempt an up-tempo style of play, but said she is trying to prepare the Pirates to be flexible in case of injuries. … Higgs believes Wakefield may surprise the league with her skills. “I didn’t even know how good she was until she got here,” she said. Outlook: Whitworth faces a tough group of teams in non-conference play. Though Higgs joked that conference play will seem easy after the preseason, the Pirates will confront strong playoff contenders such as Willamette and George Fox. Seattle University, new to the conference, is expected to rise quickly to the top of the rankings… . Two matchups against Lewis and Clark will be key games for Whitworth; LC handed the Pirates a pair of overtime losses last season to shut them out of the playoffs for the first time in seven years… . Whitworth, lacking in height, will need to play aggressively to hold its own.

ROSTER Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown Name Pos. H Yr. High School Mindy Bandy F 5-10 Fr. Wilbur Kelly McKee G 5-5 Fr. Stevensville, Mont. Emily Stuenkel G 5-8 So. University Courtney Carr G 5-8 Jr. University Andrea Sherer F 5-9 Sr. Payette, Idaho Kristen Davis G 5-5 Sr. Curlew Jennifer Ratcliff F 5-9 So. Mt. Rainier Jamie Wakefield F 5-9 Fr. Mead Kristi Pentzer G 5-8 Sr. Greenleaf Academy, NNC Katie Werner F 5-11 Jr. Pullman Myra Slwooko G 5-6 So. Unalakleet, Ak. Star Olson G 5-8 So. East Valley Cindy Viall F 5-11 Sr. Grays Harbor J.C.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time Nov. 21 at Montana Tech L 75-54 Dec. 5 at George Fox 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at Willamette 6 p.m. Dec. 15 at Lewis-Clark 7 p.m. Dec. 30 vs. Albertson 7 p.m. Jan. 3 vs. Western Baptist 4 p.m. Jan. 4 vs. Evergreen 4 p.m. Jan. 9 vs. Linfield 6 p.m. Jan. 10 vs. Pacific 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at Pacific Lutheran 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Lewis & Clark 6 p.m. Jan. 23 vs. Seattle University 6 p.m. Jan. 24 vs. Puget Sound 6 p.m. Jan. 27 at Whitman 6 p.m. Jan. 30 vs. George Fox 6 p.m. Jan. 31 vs. Willamette 6 p.m. Feb. 6 at Linfield 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at Pacific 6 p.m. Feb. 10 vs. Whitman 6 p.m. Feb. 13 vs. Pacific Lutheran 6 p.m. Feb. 14 vs. Lewis & Clark 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at Seattle University 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Puget Sound 6 p.m. Feb. 24-28 NCIC playoffs TBA

This sidebar appeared with the story: WHITWORTH WOMEN’S BASKETBALL AT A GLANCE

FACTS Coach: Helen Higgs (fourth year). Assistant coachesLori Natier, Nathan Dunham. 1996 record: 13-11, 9-7 in NCIC. Players to watch: Sr. Kristen Davis (5-5, G), Sr. Andrea Sherer (5-9, F), So. Star Olson (5-8 G), So. Emily Stuenkel (5-8, G). Key newcomers: Fr. Jamie Wakefield (5-9, F), Fr. Mindy Bandy (5-10, F). Bonus points Higgs, 40-40, will attempt an up-tempo style of play, but said she is trying to prepare the Pirates to be flexible in case of injuries. … Higgs believes Wakefield may surprise the league with her skills. “I didn’t even know how good she was until she got here,” she said. Outlook: Whitworth faces a tough group of teams in non-conference play. Though Higgs joked that conference play will seem easy after the preseason, the Pirates will confront strong playoff contenders such as Willamette and George Fox. Seattle University, new to the conference, is expected to rise quickly to the top of the rankings… . Two matchups against Lewis and Clark will be key games for Whitworth; LC handed the Pirates a pair of overtime losses last season to shut them out of the playoffs for the first time in seven years… . Whitworth, lacking in height, will need to play aggressively to hold its own.

ROSTER Name Pos. Ht. Yr. Hometown Name Pos. H Yr. High School Mindy Bandy F 5-10 Fr. Wilbur Kelly McKee G 5-5 Fr. Stevensville, Mont. Emily Stuenkel G 5-8 So. University Courtney Carr G 5-8 Jr. University Andrea Sherer F 5-9 Sr. Payette, Idaho Kristen Davis G 5-5 Sr. Curlew Jennifer Ratcliff F 5-9 So. Mt. Rainier Jamie Wakefield F 5-9 Fr. Mead Kristi Pentzer G 5-8 Sr. Greenleaf Academy, NNC Katie Werner F 5-11 Jr. Pullman Myra Slwooko G 5-6 So. Unalakleet, Ak. Star Olson G 5-8 So. East Valley Cindy Viall F 5-11 Sr. Grays Harbor J.C.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time Nov. 21 at Montana Tech L 75-54 Dec. 5 at George Fox 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at Willamette 6 p.m. Dec. 15 at Lewis-Clark 7 p.m. Dec. 30 vs. Albertson 7 p.m. Jan. 3 vs. Western Baptist 4 p.m. Jan. 4 vs. Evergreen 4 p.m. Jan. 9 vs. Linfield 6 p.m. Jan. 10 vs. Pacific 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at Pacific Lutheran 6 p.m. Jan. 17 at Lewis & Clark 6 p.m. Jan. 23 vs. Seattle University 6 p.m. Jan. 24 vs. Puget Sound 6 p.m. Jan. 27 at Whitman 6 p.m. Jan. 30 vs. George Fox 6 p.m. Jan. 31 vs. Willamette 6 p.m. Feb. 6 at Linfield 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at Pacific 6 p.m. Feb. 10 vs. Whitman 6 p.m. Feb. 13 vs. Pacific Lutheran 6 p.m. Feb. 14 vs. Lewis & Clark 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at Seattle University 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Puget Sound 6 p.m. Feb. 24-28 NCIC playoffs TBA



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