Let the games begin

After finishing the 2006-2007 season with a 7-6 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) record and an overall record of 13-14, the women’s basketball team has come back stronger and ready to bounce back against this year’s competition.

“We’d like to win the conference this year and get that automatic bid to the (NCAA Tournament) and hopefully make some noise in that tournament,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “The women’s basketball games have always been an exciting place to be. The team gives 100 percent every game and they work until the end.”

“We’re going to play aggressive this year and score fast break points,” she added.

Anchoring the Lions this year is 6-foot-3 junior center Hillary Klimowicz. Last year, Klimowicz led the team and conference with a 58.4 field goal percentage and was in the second in the conference and first on the team with an 81.0 free throw percentage.

“I think we should expect more from (Klimowicz),” Henderson said. “She played well last year but started with an injury. . In February, we got to really see what she can do for us. She is determined and she is going to be the compass for this team.”

Klimowicz also led the Lions in points with 336 – a 12.4 average per game – and tallied a team-leading 76 blocks for the Lions, good enough for second in the conference. Picking up 200 rebounds (74 offensive, 126 defensive), the center received notoriety last season when Sports Illustrated featured Klimowicz in a special about her transfer from St. Joseph’s University to the College.

Also returning to the Lions this year is the only senior on the team, guard/forward Sara Best. Best averaged 8.7 points a game and had 236 total points last season. A clutch player, Best scored in double digits in each of the last 14 games of the season.

“(Best) is going to be a big part of any success we have this year,” Henderson said. “We only have 13 girls, which is a good thing. I expect everybody to contribute.”

Both Best and Klimowicz picked up NJAC honors last year, as Best received an honorable mention and Klimowicz picked up an NJAC First-Team award.

“We were such a young team last year and in many ways we still are since we only have one senior,” Henderson said. “We struggled for longer than I anticipated (last season), but watching them play now I can see how much they have matured. . Everyone is going to have an impact.”

The Lions also have junior guard Lisa Koch to look to. The returning letter-winner not only led the team in assists with 74 and was second in touches with 70 but notched 156 points last year.

Sophomore forward/center Alexandra Gregorek returns to the Lions after racking up 164 rebounds, 177 points and a .443 shooting percentage.

New to the team is freshman forward Kelsey Kutch, who Henderson said should have an impact right away for the Lions.

“This team is going to get better everyday,” Henderson said. “The team we are today is not the team we are going to be tomorrow, and not the team we’ll be in February. I think this team will be right in the hunt.”