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SMC Basketball: Belles ready to travel to Ohio tournament

Chris Michalski | Friday, November 20, 2009

The Belles will travel to Bluffton, Ohio this weekend to play two non-conference games in the Bluffton University Tournament. 

The tournament features four teams with the winners of the first round games going on to play for the championship on Saturday at 3 p.m., and the losers facing off in the consolation game on the same day at 1 p.m.

The Belles’ first-round matchup will be Wheaton College, a team that went 16-10 last year and is off to an 0-1 start this year after losing to the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse 57-65.

“Wheaton is a very well-coached team,” Belles’ coach Jenn Henley said. “They are very disciplined all the way around.”

The Belles beat the Thunder last year 81-78 in a game where Wheaton rallied from 13 points down at halftime to tie the game at 76 before the Belles pulled away in the last minute.

Junior Kathleen Fidelia’s three-point attempt to tie the game at the buzzer was off the mark, leaving her team salivating for a rematch this year.

“[Wheaton] graduated a lot last season, much like us,” said Henley. “I think we match up very well with them — I am expecting it to be a very competitive game.”

The other side of the tournament bracket has two Ohio teams, Oberlin College and Bluffton University.

The Yeowomen have yet to play a game this season and the Beavers took their season opener 79-67 over Hiram.

The Belles are coming off a decisive 72-33 win against Anderson. The 39-point margin of victory was the largest since 2007 for the Belles. Furthermore, the 33 points given up was the lowest total since 2003.

“I thought we played very well on Tuesday defensively, but we certainly understand that we can’t look past anyone regardless of how we played the previous game,” said Henley. “We take one game at time.”

The games this weekend don’t carry the same significance as the MIAA matches that will begin in December, but they still go on the team’s official record and have ramifications down the line.

“Early wins in the season can definitely help set the tone as we enter into conference play — and tournaments like this give us a great opportunity to prove what we are capable of doing,” said Henley.

No matter the outcome on Friday, the loser will get a rematch later this season as the two teams square off again on Feb. 11 at Wheaton.

The first game of the tournament is scheduled for 6 p.m.  Following the tournament, the Belles will have a week off before they take on North Central on Nov. 28.