Lady Wildcats thrive on and off the court


CWU WBB Seniors. Photo Courtesy of Jacob Thompson, Thompson Sports Media

Charis Jones and Tre'Jon Henderson

CWU women’s basketball has put on a show this season with a 19-6 overall record so far. Their most recent game took place Saturday, Feb. 18 against Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) in Nampa, Idaho where the Wildcats blew the Nighthawks out of the sky with a sweeping 85-60 final score. 

However, CWU’s previous victory vs. the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) on Saturday, Feb. 11 takes the cake, as the Wildcat’s senior night ceremony also took place that night. 

“It was amazing to finally beat Anchorage in our home gym,” redshirt senior Samantha Bowman said. “It was the first time since I’ve been at Central and it was such a great feeling, especially on senior night. We played so well as a team and it was so good to see.”

CWU dominated the game with an 87-56 box score. Being able to walk away from their home court on such a high note had players like redshirt senior Kiera Bush feeling great about the team and their outlook for the rest of the season. 

“After the win against Anchorage, I just felt truly blessed to be in the position I am in,” Bush said. “Playing with such amazing people and being part of a program that pushes us past what we thought were our limits, there is no better feeling than being out there and playing for one another. With that being said, I also know that we aren’t done yet. We still have so many ways we can grow and I’m beyond excited to rise to that challenge.”

It was an inherently emotional night for seniors, as it was their last matchup here in Ellensburg, but redshirt senior Jenna Troy, expresses her gratitude for the program and all that she’s gained from being a part of it.

“It was definitely a surreal feeling,” Troy said. “It really didn’t feel like it was the last time we were all going to play on our home floor, but I am really grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve gotten at Central. It’s pretty emotional for it to be ending.”

Troy’s impact on this team has gone far but unnoticed, given sophomore Claire Heitschmidt’s glowing review of her influence as a teammate. 

“She has been a big role model for me and has shown me how to juggle a challenging program while playing basketball,” said Heitschmidt. “Not only has she been [a role model] with that, but also in basketball. She couldn’t play her senior year due to an injury but that doesn’t stop her from being a great teammate to everyone. Everyone needs a Jenna to look up to.”

Troy is one of the four seniors on the team who recently earned Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) All-Academic honors for her 3.75 grade point average (GPA). This happens to be Troy’s third time receiving this honor during her career at CWU. 

While these girls are no strangers to the ins and outs of juggling sports with schoolwork, this doesn’t make it an easy feat to accomplish. Heitschmidt, who also made it on the GNAC All-Academic honors selection list, shares a bit about her experience being a student-athlete, while also sharing some advice.

“Some advice I would give to other athletes is to ask for help,” Heitschmidt said. “I know that’s very basic but that’s the only way I can juggle both basketball and school. Building a relationship with your teachers is very important and most of them will be more than happy to spend extra time with you if you need help.”

Heitschmidt is one of only two sophomores on the team who earned the GNAC All-Academic honors for her 3.92 GPA. Though it’s only her second season here at CWU, she continues to play a role in the team’s success, averaging nearly 16 minutes per game and scoring a total of 235 points this season.

Samantha ‘’Showtime’’ Bowman, who is also a three-time GNAC All-Academic honors selection with a 3.66 GPA, admits that it took her some time to find that balance between basketball and her studies.

“It took me a year or two to figure out how to juggle being a student-athlete,” Bowman said. “Time management is a vital skill that I needed to learn if I was going to succeed. It has definitely been a challenge balancing my master’s program but it’s a work in progress and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Bowman averaged 21 points per game, while having a conference-leading 34 blocks and 355 rebounds on the season. Bowman is CWU’s all-time leading rebounder and broke the GNAC record for most rebounds in a game, with 31 rebounds.

The team has been showcasing their skills not only in the classroom but also on the court with an 11-5 conference record, winning six games at home and five on the road so far. With only two games left before the GNAC tournament, Troy is thrilled about the team this year and their odds once they make it there. 

“I am super excited about the tournament,” Troy said. “I think we have done a really good job and put ourselves in a position to continue to be successful this year, so I’m really excited to see what is to come.”

Their final games before the tournament will be played in Lacey, Washington. on Feb. 23 against Saint Martin’s University (SMU), and in Monmouth, Ore. on Feb. 25. against Western Oregon University (WOU). Both live streams for these face-offs can be watched via Youtube under the team’s pages: @SMUAthleticsYT and @WOUWolves.

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  • Lady Wildcats thrive on and off the court.

  • Women’s basketball players fight for a win at the senior night game.

  • Women’s basketball players hit the court for senior night.

  • Women’s basketball plays for senior night.

  • Senior lady cats honored at senior night.

  • CWU basketball supporters rose to their feet for senior night.

  • Women’s basketball plays for senior night.

  • Lady cats celebrate from the sidelines of senior night.

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