Women’s basketball knows it has quite a challenge ahead.
It was inevitable; Rachel Sondag and the dynamic Class of 2015 couldn’t hang around forever.
The Stateswomen, now without last year’s senior leaders like Sondag (one of 10 players in school history to score 1,000 points), Mallory Moran and Cami Unger, are under pressure to keep the program’s success running.
They’re certainly off to a good start, at 4-0 after winning the Randi Perkins Tournament at Marquette to open the year. The 52-43 win over Francis Howell in the title game, led by sophomore Jadiah Stewart’s 18 points, catapulted Webster to the championship and to the number six ranking in the stltoday area large school standings.
In the latest rankings, the Stateswomen have moved to the number three spot.
Webster is missing former stars, but there are young stars early in their own runs with the program emerging this year as well.
Stewart and sophomore KK Rodriguez are dangerous underclassmen already taking leadership roles with the team, while senior Erica Waelterman and junior Maggy Moran provide the experienced leadership the team needs to carry on for Sondag, who now plays at Washington University.
In fact, Stewart’s performance in the Randi Perkins Tournament earned her “Player of the Week” honors from stltoday.com. She averaged 20.3 points per game in the tournament, including a 27-point effort in Webster’s 59-43 first round win over Nerinx Hall. Stewart added 11 steals for a double-double in the rout.
It might be too early to say, but given the depth of this team, there could be something in the near future for the Stateswomen that they’ve come close to the last couple years but have not quite achieved: a District title.
They’re on a roll early on, and if they stay on that roll, not much will be able to stand in their way, so it may be a tad premature, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: Webster will be District champions in 2015-16.