SHEPHERDSTOWN – The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division coaches are truly in awe of the veteran Shepherd women’s basketball team. This group elected the Rams as the second best team in the division, just inches from Shippensburg and ahead of Kutztown, East Stroudsburg and Lock Haven in the nine-team group.
The best team on Shepherd’s schedule will be Gannon, a team from the West Division and coming to Shepherdstown on December 3 for what may well be an indicator of how competitive the two teams are.
Shepherd literally has a “Big three” scorers in point guard Abby Beeman, forward / center Sydney Clayton and goalkeeper Marley McLaughlin.
Beeman was almost a workaholic as a freshman in the 2019-20 season, when she played like anything but a freshman – scoring 20 points per game, distributing assists in clusters and bouncing well even from her position in rear area.
Clayton was another anchor of excellence in the same season with his consistent scoring and much needed rebounds.
And McLaughlin has proven himself with 20-point effort, perimeter shots and a calm experience.
And now that the 2019-20 season is a distant memory, the Rams return to the PSAC hardwoods with targets on their backs as the rest of the league knows how dangerous they can be. .
Senior forward Hannah Myers and first-year forward Meghan Shipley were the other two starters as the Rams jumped out of the starting gate with wins over Davis & Elkins, Frostburg State and Bowie State in their first three matches. A 74-56 win over renowned Bowie Sate was Shepherd’s only home game in the first three outings. Myers is a two-year-old starter because of her intensity and drive.
Coach Jenna Eckleberry has seen reservations in forward Jordan Smith and guard Cara Minor as well as senior Madi White, who finds a night in double digits when the Rams need it most. Sophomore McKenzie Freeze could add her running game and scoring at times this season.
League coaches named Shippensburg as the division favorite because the Red Raiders were 21-9 in 2019-20. Kutztown is 18-11 this season. To become the PSAC champion, Shepherd not only has Gannon and Shippensburg as hurdles, but also nationally recognized Indiana, a team that has shone in the NCAA Division II National Tournament in recent years.
Shepherd opened the season with a 90-61 victory over Davis & Elkins in a two-day tournament. Beeman scored 24 points, distributed nine assists and picked up seven rebounds. Clayton had 15 points and Minor added 10 more on the bench.
In a 72-60 win over Frostburg, it was Beeman with 28 points, Clayton 21 points and McLaughlin adding another 17 points.
On display at the Butcher Center for the first time against Bowie State, the Rams spotted the Bulldogs with a 4-0 lead before scoring the next seven points and taking a 21-13 lead after a quarter. The Rams took a double-digit halftime lead as McLaughlin and Clayton both scored well. McLaughlin completed a night of 22 points, while Clayton scored 19 points and claimed 11 rebounds. Beeman was in double digits with 10 points and was credited with 12 assists and eight rebounds as the Rams rebounded well for the first time in three games.
Opponent coaches have been in awe of what Shepherd has accomplished in the immediate past. . . will they now be just as impressed with what they do in the 2021-2022 season?