MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Bethany Lutheran women’s basketball team is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Leading up to the big tourney, the Vikings cracked a previous mark boasting a 22-3 overall record.
“I think compared to last year, we were just excited to get to the tournament and were just hyped about yeah we made it but I think this year we’re like we can go further, we have the motivation, the skills, the teamwork, the coaching staff, everything, the bench, all of us together, I think we can make it pretty far in the tournament this year,” Kenlie Pytleski, BLC junior forward, said.
The Vikings won’t be phased by the atmosphere in this year’s NCAA Tournament as the team focuses on using last year’s experience to make a deep run in 2020.
“I think if we all come together and we all play our best game that we can definitely do some damage in this tournament,” Hanna Geistfeld, BLC junior forward, said.
In the first round of the tournament, Friday, the Vikings take on No. 6 ranked Bethel University.
“I think we match up pretty well with them and I think it’s going to be tough without our post and their post, so I think it’s going to be a really good game,” Abby Olson, BLC junior guard, said.
“We’ve got some great analytics that we’ve watched on film, in fact, we’ve watched them all year long, so we kind of know the match-ups the strengths and weaknesses and so it’s going to be about execution and how efficient we are,” Lyle Jones, BLC head coach, said.
The Vikes are averaging about 76 points per game this season and in their last three match-ups, the team has held their opponents to an average of 50. Beyond the squad’s physical ability, their connection to each other boosts their success.
“I think they really play for each other, at some point in that game against Superior they came together and said we’re not ready to be done, we’re not ready to have our two seniors be done and when you’ve got a team that plays for each other that’s hard to beat,” Emma Purfeerst, BLC assistant coach, said.
Tip-off against the Lions is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday in St. Paul.