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Women’s Basketball Team Plays Through Adversity


West Windsor, N.J. – The women’s basketball team started off the season with a strong set of recruits, but could not maintain its numbers for the duration. Multiple factors, including injuries, created holes in the roster that proved difficult to fill.

Noted Head Coach Mike Tenaglia, who completed his 25th season with the Lady Vikes, the games in the first part of the season were competitive and even the losses were mostly close ones.

“But attrition really hurt us after winter break. We were forced us to get creative by recruiting several terrific athletes from the women’s soccer team, but who were not experienced basketball players,” he said.

While the Vikings ended their season 6-19, the women came away having made strides on the court and beyond. “For those who stayed with it, they got a lot of playing time, improved their skill level, and had some fun. They never quit on each other,” Tenaglia said, adding that his assistant coaches, Jane Berlinger, Samantha Cobbs and Alexis Sweet, gave the players a lot of on-the-court guidance as well as moral support.

Then there were the intangible lessons the athletes learned – discipline, focus, teamwork and dedication. “That translates to their success in the classroom,” Tenaglia said, pointing to sophomore Brianna Gurdon, who was this year's recipient of two scholarships awarded for academic excellence, the Dr. Cynthia Schaffer Memorial Scholarship and the Forman and Sloshberg Memorial Scholarship.

Tenaglia said there is much take-away for both the players and the coaching staff. “I always enjoy the competition and camaraderie and helping kids develop and get to the next level. I want them to know that they are coming to Mercer to be students first and basketball players second. Our main goal is to help them achieve their academic success and move to the next level of their lives. We want to make them better athletes and better students. And in that, I believe we succeeded,” he said.

Team members who finished out the season were sophomore guards Dana Davies and Brianna Gurdon, freshmen guards Janine Dennis, Mani Rivera-Kissling, and Melanie Sachs, and freshman forwards Delila Mena and Nyeema Woodall.

Tenaglia is expecting next season to be an improvement on this year's results. Four players are expected to return and the coaches have expanded their recruitment efforts. As many as twelve incoming freshmen and transfer students have expressed interest in donning Vikings jerseys.

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Freshman forward Delila Mena was a scoring leader.
From left, Dana Davies (no. 24), Janine Dennis (no. 15) and Mani Rivera-Kissling (no. 20).
Sophomore guard Brianna Gurdon worked hard on the court and in the classroom.
Players continued to grow and learn under Head Coach Mike Tenaglia.