Another game passed and another victory for the Shippensburg University women’s basketball team.
Heading into this week’s gauntlet of Kutztown University and Mansfield University, the Raiders are grasping onto a No. 2 seed in the PSAC East Division and are clawing their way up to the first place spot. As the team pushes toward the playoffs, one thing has stood out from all the rest — the play of the underclassmen.
Caitlyn Deeter, Alex Gildea and Stephanie Knauer have blossomed into formidable forces for the Raider squad this year, contributing on every facet of the court from rebounding to shot blocking.
The three were seen as key components heading into this year’s campaign, as head coach Kristy Trn was very high on all three of them. Trn, seeing the potential in the trio, has let them loose and it has paid dividends for the team.
The Raiders (14–6, 10–5) have benefitted from solid post play from Knauer. The talented center took over the starting role after the injury to Caitlin Bamberger and has not looked back. Knauer has registered a double-double in nine of the team’s 20 games, including an 18-point, 10 rebound effort in SU’s 61-40 thrashing of Cheyney University on Saturday afternoon. She leads the team with 185 rebounds and is second on the team in points, averaging 12.4 a game.
Deeter has seen noticeable time off the bench and has recently earned some starts for the Raider squad, especially after the Christmas break. During the break, Trn offered some key words for the young Deeter.
“When you’re out there, the seniors aren’t out there,” Trn said. “You need to start doing your thing.”
Deeter has done her thing all right. Making the most of her playing time, the talented guard has helped facilitate open looks for the likes of Sarah Strybuc and Shawna and Dana Wert
while also setting herself up for open looks as well. She has filled in quite nicely as a point player but her shooting ability makes her versatile as a one or two guard.
Like Deeter, Gildea has also stepped up big for SU. Her 12-point, 10-rebound performance in a victory against East Stroudsburg University solidified her importance to the team. Her first career double-double did not notch her the PSAC East Freshman Player of the Week but it did open eyes as to the talent she possesses.
“Alex, has also stepped up,” Trn said. “You never know when your’re going to get a lot of opportunities but you need to make the most of it.”
Like Deeter, Gildea has joined Knauer as key components of this Raiders’ roster. They have made the most of their opportunities and have provided a glimpse into the future of SU’s program. The lights are shining bright, and these three are not shying away.
SU hits the road Wednesday night for a 6 p.m. contest against KU.