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Page 7 | The Herald | Friday, March 6, 2009

Y O U R s p or t s

Softball spring break

BASKETBALL: Women’s national tournament online

by Jorge Jaramillo is your source for game-by-game updates and feature stories on the women’s basketball team as Cornerstone heads to Sioux City, Iowa, for spring break to compete in the national tournament.

Staff writer


o leave the snow behind is only the beginning of excitement for Cornerstone’s women’s softball team this spring break.

Jenna Plewes climbing CU’s scoring charts Jenna Plewes is nearing the Cornerstone women’s basketball team’s all-time scoring record. She currently has 1,705 career points, which is 51 points behind Cathi Velzen who has 1,756. If Plewes is consistent with her WHAC scoring average for the season (17.2 points per game), it would take her just over three games to tie and/or break the record. Cornerstone begins the national tournament next week, and many experts expect them to play three games.

Do not be surprised when the team comes back with tan lines. For one week, they will be enjoying the endless sun that Arizona has to offer as they participate in the eighth Annual Tucson Invitational Games tournament. The Tucson Invitational Games tournament is a sixday long event—six days of doubleheaders. Despite that, the lineup will undoubtedly be challenging, the Golden Eagles express nothing less than anticipative excitement. Before the week is over, they will be up against two teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation. While playing and basking underneath the ever-present Tucson sun, injury is a bit of a concern. “I like to play with 16 players,” said head coach Jim Farrell. The reality is that

Men a perennial power in WHAC Head coach Kim Elders has coached Cornerstone men’s basketball team to 11 consecutive WHAC Tournament Championship games.

WHAC conference basketball awards Several Cornerstone basketball players were recognized for WHAC conference awards. From the men’s team Matt Kingshott selected for the All-Conference First Team, Caleb Simons was selected for the All-Conference Second Team, Ronald Bates was selected for the All-Newcomer Team, Corbin Donaldson was selected for the Champions of Character Team and Donaldson, Kingshott and Ryan Zwier were selected for the All-Academic Team. From the women’s team Jenna Plewes was selected for the All-Conference First Team, Kara Overbeek was selected for the All-Conference Second Team, Robyn Veltkamp was selected for the All-Conference Third Team, Tami Thelen was selected for the All-Defensive Team, Robyn Veltkamp was selected for the All-Newcomer Team, Dani Kraai was selected for the Champions of Character Team, Carla Fles was selected as Champions of Character Coach and Jenna Plewes was selected for the All-Academic Team.

Men beat UM-Dearborn in semi-finals game The men’s basketball team got an unexpected home game in the semi-finals after Davenport was upset in the first round by UM-Dearborn. The Golden Eagles would not suffer the same fate, beating UM-Dearborn 92-67 in the semifinals.

Women beat Aquinas in WHAC Semi-Finals The women’s basketball team beat Aquinas for the second time in eight days last Saturday in the WHAC Tournament Semi-Finals. After jumping out to an early lead, Aquinas fought back, but Cornerstone prevailed in the end with a 62-55 victory. Cornerstone’s Robyn Veltkamp led all scorers with 17 points, knocking down 9 of 12 free throw attempts. Jenna Plewes and Brooke Carter also scored in doublefigures for the Golden Eagles, adding 12 and 10 points, respectively. Carter also pulled down nine rebounds. Carrie Abdo led Aquinas with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Women ranked No. 7 The women’s basketball team at Cornerstone heads into the national tournament ranked No. 7 in NAIA Division II. The ranking should be good for a No. 2 seed at the national tournament. Cornerstone started the season at No. 6 in the preseason polls. Source: Cornerstone Athletic Department Web site

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Kara Overbeek: Shoots a three-pointer against Davenport.

Overbeek leads Golden Eagles’ offensive attack By Emily Hollis

Staff writer


olden Eagle Kara Overbeek is ready to soar.

The soft-spoken senior captain for Cornerstone’s basketball team will bid farewell along with many other graduates this May. Overbeek said the moment will be bittersweet when it comes to her last game. “I’ll probably cry just because my parents will be crying,” Overbeek said. “It’s sad to have something so good end.” Overbeek, a business management major, said she does not know what the next step in her career will be, however she hopes to one day become “an athletic director, but I’ve got to work my way up to that.” Overbeek has been working her way up since childhood, where her passion for basketball began. “I have an older brother and parents [who] played,” she said. “So they taught it to us.” In fifth grade, Overbeek said her parents put her on a non-competitive team in Zeeland “just for kids,” she said. “We played a lot of teams.” Overbeek also said that two of her current teammates, Danielle Kraai and Jenna Plewes, played against each other while her mom coached the young team. “Me and Dani were on the same team, and Jenna’s team was always the team to beat,” Overbeek said. In Holland Christian High School, her practice from middle school paid off. She played on their varsity team all four years, and was selected twice in the O.K. Gold All-Conference. She was also named one of the top 100 players in the Detroit Free Press. Overbeek said she owes most of her achievements to her high school coach. “Because I had him all four years, he saw that I had a lot of potential,” she said. “He pushed me a lot. He would always yell at me if I did something wrong and always challenged me to be the first one to finish plays and shoot baskets.” “He’d always tell me what to do to get better.” In 2004, Overbeek began to look at colleges, including Calvin and Hope, while finishing her senior year. “I watched the [Cornerstone] men’s team a lot growing up,” she said. “I never thought about

coming here. But I realized it was close to home, small, and I knew I could play here. I also got some scholarships, so all those combined helped me in my decision.” Overbeek said one of her favorite years at CU was 2005. “My sophomore year we finished third in the conference,” she said. “We had to play Aquinas in the second round of the tournament, and we won. “We were the underdogs, and we won at Aquinas on their court.” That year, the women’s team continued from the championship tournament to nationals, where their victorious streak continued. “Winning that game was big. We beat Davenport at Davenport’s [campus], and they were undefeated,” she said. “So it was fun to beat them. Winning the big games were most memorable.” Speaking of Davenport, Overbeek also commented about their recent loss against the university 79-74, where the team fell behind 20 points before the second half and worked up to a tie, before losing by just a couple points. “If we hadn’t gotten down by so much, we would’ve outscored them the rest of the way,” she said. “We missed a lot of free throws.” This is why Overbeek also said she hopes to play Davenport in the upcoming finals. “We beat them before by 15, and they only beat us by four,” she said. “We feel like we’re better.” When it comes to a team’s players, head coach Carla Fles would categorize Overbeek as one of the key athletes on the team. “In many games, she has come up with some clutch plays which was usually hitting a big basket,” Fles said. “She has been one of our floor leaders throughout her junior and senior years and has delivered.” “One word to describe her would be ‘steady,’” Fles said. As Overbeek’s graduation day draws closer, she said she hopes the team continues its winning record since the team has won 20 games all four years Overbeek has attended Cornerstone. “We always finish within the top four in the conference,” she said. After all the achievements Overbeek assisted with in the past four years, in basketball retirement she looks forward to skiing, boating, tubing and eating pizza and steak “all the time.” “It’s been a really good four years,” she said. “My coach and my parents have been very supportive, and I’ll be sad to leave.”

CU only has 12 players on the team, and only 11 are attending the TIG tournament. Senior player Jill Peterson has a prior commitment to the basketball team and is going with team to play at nationals. Last year, Peterson only participated for half the week. She then left to support the basketball team. Peterson said spring break is always the hardest because so much bonding happens during spring break. She said it is a battle for her because she feels that she is a part of two families and is leaving one or the other either way. It is not easy being torn in two. “I always hear about references to the spring break trip, and I feel a little left out of the loop,” she said. But even with only 11 players preparing for the TIG tournament, there are still plenty of reasons to stay positive and much to look forward to. According to senior Emily Brown, last year the team watched University of Arizona play two softball games. She said that they are a great team, one of the best in the nation. “It was weird to look up to them so much because half of them are younger than I am,” Brown said. Christy Chapman recalled the time Michigan came to pay Arizona a little visit. “The most memorable moment for me was our last day of games when it hailed, and they had

to postpone the game for a few minutes because the fields were white! I was in shock, almost. I couldn’t believe it was snowing in Arizona,” Chapman said. She is very excited for this year’s Arizona trip because it is a really good time to spend with the team, and they get to know each other better. “I just hope there’s no more snow.” Freshman player Dinah Gruppen, who was not on the team last year, attended the Tucson tournament anyway just to watch her older sister, Leah. “My most memorable moment was with Mel Creager,” said Gruppen. “She hit like eight homeruns down there, and I think she played some of her best ball.” Mishaps do occur and are also sometimes memorable, and this one stuck out for Jill Peterson. She remembered that after getting rental vans the team went to eat at Quiznos, and then one of the vans stopped working. We were there about three hours, and Quiznos was nice enough to let us get drink refills the whole time. In order to keep themselves occupied while stranded at Quiznos some of the players played cards, others tanned, others played catch. Regardless of the team being stranded within a few hours of arriving in Arizona, the Golden Eagles had a good experience. For them, spring break cannot come soon enough.

Thelen leads CU defense by lisa heasley

Staff writer

Senior Tami Thelen came up against one of the best scorers in the conference on Jan. 28. The self-proclaimed “defensive specialist” on the Cornerstone basketball team was matched up against Joslyn Narber, Aquinas’ top scorer, who averages about 18 points per game. Thelen’s goal for the game: shut Narber down. Though the game did not go as planned for Cornerstone when it fell to Aquinas 66-54. Narber scored only seven points that game. Thelen has started every game this season for the Cornerstone Golden Eagles, and has worked her way up in the past four years to the leadership position she holds today. She has grown into her role on the team. As a freshman, she was averaging about 30 seconds of playing time per game. She described her sophomore year as a complete 180 degree change. Her minutes increased to 25 per game. The journey went fast, but it has never been about the playing time for Thelen. “Every person played an important role,” Thelen said about her freshman year. “Even though I averaged 30 seconds, I was important. I made the team

better in practice.” As a senior and captain, Thelen said her time with Cornerstone women’s basketball has brought different teams and different players, and the hard work has all been worth it. “Teams have had ups and downs, but overall my four years have been more than anything I ever expected,” she said. “It’s been amazing to be part of the basketball family.” Cornerstone women’s basketball head coach Carla Fles said Thelen came in as a “wide-eyed freshman.” “Her understanding of the game has improved by leaps and bounds,” Fles said. “Her freshman year she had a hard time remembering plays, and now she is directing her teammates on the floor.” Part of the “basketball family” that has stayed the same for four years have been two of Thelen’s teammates, fellow seniors Jenna Plewes and Kara Overbeek. “Those two have been a big part of my basketball life, on the court and off,” Thelen said. “Since we came in together, we’ve always had a special bond between us.” Another person impacting Thelen’s life and basketball career is Fles, whom Thelen called a spiritual leader for the team as well as basketball coach.

“She’s always challenged us year after year for God to be the No. 1 goal and purpose in our lives,” Thelen said. “She’s always stressed that fact that we play for one God and one audience, and we can glorify God on and off the court and in our relationships with the team.” Thelen is also grateful for the direction of assistant coaches Mindy Rader and Mike Riemersma. “Rader has always been there for good advice. She tells you right away what you need to do,” Thelen said. “Mike has always been a good encourager. And, sometimes it’s good to have a man’s point of view.” Fles lists some of Thelen’s career highlights as a career high 22 point game, being named to the WHAC all-defensive team her junior year, hitting a last second three-pointer to send a game into overtime and her cheering ability to get her team going. Thelen is looking forward to finishing out the rest of the season strong. “Right now, we have really high expectations about winning the rest of our games and conference,” she said. “We made it to the sweet 16 last year, and we want to get further this year. There’s not a doubt in our minds that we can do it; we just need to get the job done.”

nationals: basketball teams gear up for spring break tournament From Page 6

games early in the season has prepared us that now we know how to win those close games. That’s very important particularly when you get into any tournament situation.” Riemersma said he believes Cornerstone’s 66-54 loss at Aquinas on Jan. 28 was the turning point. “Sometimes when it goes bad, it just goes really bad, and out of that, you can turn it around,” he said. “That was probably the worst that we played all year, and I think that it woke us up a little bit and gave us a sense of urgency.” Cornerstone’s three senior captains – Jenna Plewes, Kara Overbeek and Tami Thelen – have been the driving force behind the team all season long. “The seniors are not just satisfied with getting to the tournament, and they won’t let the team be satisfied with getting to the tournament,” Riemersma said. “They want to make a

deep run.” The coaching staff expressed its complete confidence in these three players. “I think there comes a point when you’ve played in enough games and you’ve been in situations at this level that you know what you need to do,” Riemersma said, “and they know what they need to do.” “They want the ball in their hands at crunch time, and they’ve come through,” he said. “That’s what you expect seniors to do, and I think that type of attitude is going to carry over to the tournament because they’re hungry, and this is their last shot.” Fles said she is confident her team can compete well against any style of basketball, including up-tempo teams like Davenport and half-court-grind-itout teams like Aquinas. “We’ve played a wide variety of teams and have done well against the majority of them,” she said. Furthermore, Riemersma said Fles is the best in the business at preparing her team for

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Plewes: drives. its next opponent on a gameby-game basis. “The girls will be ready,” he said. “I think that her track record proves that.” Riemersma indicated the team will take it one step at a time. “All we need to do is win five, and you do that by winning the first one and you just play game-by-game, one game at a time,” he said.


Jenna Plewes climbing CU’s scoring charts By JorgE Jaramillo By lisa HEaslEy Visit the Herald online at By Emily Holl...