“The goal is to win State,” senior Jenna Clark said. Clark is one of five seniors on the women’s basketball team this year, and she has ambitions for another record-shattering season.
Along with then-juniors Eliza Maupin, Sophia Nittinger, Ellie Paloucek and Adele Maupin, Clark helped lead the team to a second place finish at the 2020-2021 State finals, the highest finish in the program’s history.
“Last year we got second, and we want to go back and win this time. Returning players know how hard it is to get to that point and the pain of losing. We know that if we keep working hard and play to the best of our abilities not many teams are going to beat us,” Clark said.
The team’s winning record backs up Clark’s confidence. Thanks to their leading point-scorers, Maupin and Paloucek (who each recently celebrated scoring the1,000th point of their high school careers), the Statesmen have had a dominant year. In fact, in the Annual Webster Winter Classic Challenge, the Statesmen beat undefeated Rock Bridge in an exhilaratingly close game, ending in a score of 49-45.
“Beating Rock Bridge was one of my favorite high school games,” Clark said. “We knew that if we played well that we could beat them. The coaches worked hard to set a game plan, and as players, we did a nice job of executing. We got off to a good start and that momentum carried through the whole game. That game showed a lot about our team and how we are capable of playing.”
After their Rock Bridge win, the Statesmen faced Incarnate Word Academy in the final match of the Winter Classic, ending in a loss for the Statesmen. According to Nittinger, the Red Knights are no longer in Webster’s class, so they should not be an obstacle in Webster’s journey to a State championship.
Instead, the Statesmen will face the Whitfield Warriors in the first round of Districts, a team they lost to in the beginning of their season.
“We think that we can win now, deeper in the season. We don’t see them as a too difficult task,” Nittinger said.
Nittinger is one of two seniors committed to play Division 1 basketball next year. Nittinger, an Eastern Michigan University commit, attributes this accomplishment to her support system.
“My parents put me in basketball when I was really little and helped me get where I needed to be. My high school coaches, Coach (Joshua) Spuhl especially, has just been kind of a rock from freshman year for me, and [he’s] always helping me and giving me advice and expecting a lot from me,” Nittinger said.
Maupin is also committed to play Division 1 basketball next year. She will continue her basketball career at Kansas State University. Clark and Paloucek are also committed to continue athletics in college, but for different sports. Clark will play golf at Maryville University, and Paloucek will play soccer at Saint Louis University.
“I have played basketball since I can remember. It is a huge part of my family and something that I love doing. I think that playing multiple sports is good because it also makes you appreciate the sport you are playing at that time. I also know that I only have a few months left of playing a game that I have done for so long and I need to give everything I have before it is over,” Clark said.
With the majority of the starting five graduating and no incoming seniors in the program, the current seniors have high expectations for the underclassmen.
“I hope that they continue to play and be strong on the court, and I hope they continue what we’ve done because they’re all capable of it,” Nittinger said.
Regarding the impact she hopes her class will leave on the program, Clark said, “This year we want to help lead the underclassmen and improve the program like those before us. We had a historic season last year, and we hope that our lasting mark on this program is winning State for the first time for Webster girls basketball this year.”
This will be Maren DeMargel’s first year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year.