Roadrunners win fourth straight contest

Published 11:28 pm Sunday, December 11, 2022

DOWAGIAC — Another quick start and another victory for the Southwestern Michigan College women’s basketball team.

The Roadrunners ran their winning streak to four games with a 79-55 win over visiting Henry Ford College at 1st Source Bank Field House Wednesday night. Southwestern Michigan has won six of its last seven games.

The Roadrunners doubled up the Hawks, 26-13, in the opening quarter and never looked back. Southwestern Michigan led 32-26 at halftime and 52-38 heading into the final quarter.

The Roadrunners shot a sizzling 53 percent from 3-point range as they connected on 10-of-19 attempts, led by Cameron Thomas (Hazel Crest, Illinois) 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc. Thomas led all scorers with 27 points.

Southwestern Michigan also got 25 points from former Edwardsburg standout Macey Laubach. Arian Lemons added nine points and Tori Eldridge six.

The Roadrunners’ defense forced Henry Ford into 30 percent shooting from the floor (21-of-71) and 19 turnovers.

Shawnta Standifer led the Hawks with 24 points. Tamia French added 14 points.

The Roadrunners return to the court Dec. 19 when they travel to Perrysburg, Ohio to face Owens Community College, which is currently ranked No. 3 in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III rankings. Owens Tech is the NJCAA Division III National Champions.

Before that, Southwestern Michigan will host the inaugural all-day girls high-school basketball event, the Tri-State Holiday Classic Saturday. The showcase features eight teams, playing five games, from three states.

Participants include Benton Harbor, Dowagiac Union, Edwardsburg, Lawton and Niles from Michigan, Elkhart and South Bend Riley from Indiana and Illinois’ Hillcrest High School, which sent Cameron Thomas to the Roadrunners. Games start at 10:30 a.m. in 1st Source Bank Fieldhouse on SMC’s Dowagiac campus.

Title sponsor Blue Wolf, LLC, was founded by Native American brothers David and Jeff Molnar to bring opportunity, economic empowerment and a voice to the tribal community.

Blue Wolf recently completed large land-management projects in Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia for clients such as Enbridge.

Through its environmental management efforts, Blue Wolf helps preserve forests and wetlands for future generations.

“I wanted our women’s basketball program to bring high school basketball to our campus from our surrounding communities to play out-of-state teams,” Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jeanine Wasielewski said. “Next year we’ll add the guys. There are no event management duties for the high schools, and the teams get to experience the fieldhouse’s college atmosphere. Coaches loved the idea of bringing their teams to campus, and we love the idea of giving back to our communities and their fans who sent us players,” including Niles and Edwardsburg.

“We definitely want to grow it,” perhaps to two days between Christmas and New Year’s in 2023 so players will be on holiday break. She said visitors from Indiana and Illinois are allowed to play twice, hence, the fifth game.

Riley, for example, will play both Dowagiac and Niles, while Hillcrest takes on Benton Harbor and Lawton.

Wasielewski started contacting teams nine months ago. “I want it to be competitive for them so I’ve tried to match them evenly. I’d love over time to get sponsors and provide entertainment, but we’re keeping it simple for the first one. I’m super excited that we’re pulling it off. My players are excited, too, to be hosting and volunteering.”

Lawton’s coach, Jeremy Macon, reached out to her. The Dowagiac native attended DUHS, 1994-97, and SMC, 1997-98.

Leading off at 10:30 a.m. will be Niles vs. Riley, followed by:

• 12:45 p.m., Lawton vs. Hillcrest.

• 3, Dowagiac vs. Riley.

• 5:15, Benton Harbor vs. Hillcrest.

• 7:30, Edwardsburg vs. Elkhart.

Doors open at 10 a.m. with $5 daily admission. Ages 12 and under are free. High school/SMC students are admitted free with student ID.