NICK THOMPSON, TRUMPET SPORTS WRITER
The women’s basketball team’s season met an unfortunate 71-63 end Tuesday, March 9, against Loras in the American Rivers Conference (A-R-C) quarterfinals. The Knights ended their season with an overall season record of 13-3 and conference ledger of 6-2.
Throughout the season, only one player was held out of a game due to COVID-19, but the team’s luck ran out just before the tournament. The coaching staff was quarantined because of a COVID-19 exposure and substituted interim coaches, acting head coach Greg Bodensteiner and 2020 alum Emma Gerdes.
“At least our players were able to play, so at that point we started working on figuring out who could be available to coach the team. It was easy to figure out. Greg and Emma were two very logical choices, so I made phone calls to them and they agreed. Over the next few days, we got them prepared as much as we could to lead the team on Tuesday,” Bob Amsberry, the Wartburg women’s basketball coach, said.
“It was hard. We were lucky that one, we got to keep playing and two, have two coaches step up that were willing to do that for us. It was a hard situation for them all. It was a lot of pressure and a big game and they didn’t know much. They worked really hard and put us in the best position we could, but with the ending of the game, it was hard to not have our coaches there,” Jaedon Murphy, first-year basketball player, said.
The challenges were eased by the senior leadership. Current seniors on the women’s basketball team include Payton Draper, Kaitlyn Volesky, Bailey Naig, Maddie Busch, Ally Conrad and Riley Murphy.
One of those senior leaders, Riley Murphy, was Jaedon’s older sister. Murphy has been part of several conference championships and deep NCAA tournament runs.
“Being a player who didn’t get much playing time, I’ve kind of taken (the role of) leading them on the bench. My role is to keep the energy up and keep everyone engaged throughout the whole game. I think I played a key (role) to keeping things positive and making sure everyone was up and being into the game throughout the whole time,” Murphy said.
The Murphys are part of a family that has had five family members play basketball at Wartburg College, including their father, Mike. Their older sisters, Megan and Miranda, 2018 Wartburg grads, also played. Riley was fortunate enough to play with all three of her sisters.
“It’s special. A lot of people can’t say they’ve played with all three of their sisters, so my position was pretty awesome. As a freshman they were seniors and then this year I got to step up and be that (leader). So it’s been fun to have Jaedon with me this year,” Riley said.
Amsberry has had the opportunity to coach all four sisters during his tenure at Wartburg.
“It’s been fun. Every team wants to be a family and when you have sisters, that can bridge the gap in some places. They’ve been nothing but great examples of who we want to be. We’re graduating Riley and we’re going to miss her, but Miranda, Megan and Riley are going to be great supporters of the program,” Amsberry said.
Although this season did not go the way that the team was hoping there were some positive aspects that the players and coaches are looking to build on for next season.
“Leading into next year, we’ve got some juniors that I think are ready to step into some new roles and get more playing time. We’ve also got some good young freshmen and sophomores that we feel like are going to be really, really good in our program,” Amsberry said. “Now it’s development time and time to make them better, give them some instruction and plan leading into the offseason and summer.”
“Next year hopefully things will be a little back to normal and we’ll be able to compete for a national championship,” Jaedon said.