SIOUX CITY, Iowa — “I just thanked them or everything that they’ve done, for who they are, what they’ve done for this program."
That was Carroll College women's basketball coach Rachelle Sayers message to her seniors shortly after the Fighting Saints season came to a close at the hands of the Morningside Mustangs by a score of 71-67 in the 'round-of-16' at the NAIA National Women's basketball tournament on Thursday night.
The loss, a back and forth battle between the Fighting Saints and the Mustangs, was a tough one to swallow for Sayers because of one stat-line in particular.
“When we couldn't make a play on the perimeter, we were able to get the ball inside and we were finishing. And so you know really look at the stats, we shot it better. We turned it over, less, we outrebounded them. It came down to, really, free throws in the end.”
With the loss, a plethora of familiar faces will now become Carroll women’s basketball alums. Dani Wagner, Christine Denny, Jaidyn Lyman, and Emma Madsen.
For Sayers, their commitment to the program has been quintessential to its success across their tenures.
“I'm super proud of this team. And the character of this team and the culture that they have exhibited day in and day out and what they stand for as people, number one, you know? I wish I could have done more to help them get Saturday because they deserve it," said Sayers.
While fans will have to wait until the late fall of 2022 before the Fighting Saints hit the floor again, there are some bright spots to look to.
The Fighting Saints could likely return players like Kamden Hilborn, Jamie Pickens, Sienna Swannack, and plenty of other players that saw minutes during the 2021-22 season.
Though it likely won't be the same without those four seniors, the Fighting Saints feel like there’s still plenty of good basketball to be played at Carroll College.
“Those seniors have really laid the groundwork for us," said junior Jamie Pickens. "Kamden and I have found that chemistry with each other and we've had it since high school and since elementary school — forever. So yeah, it's really exciting to know that we have one more year and we could put it all together and maybe do this thing again.”