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Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

An inside look at preseason for women’s basketball

The St. Edward’s women’s basketball players take a team photo at the Recreation & Athletic Center in Austin, Texas on Sept. 29, 2023.
Courtesy of Maria Gonzalez
The St. Edward’s women’s basketball players take a team photo at the Recreation & Athletic Center in Austin, Texas on Sept. 29, 2023.

St. Edward’s women’s basketball tips off their 2023-2024 season in just under three weeks. 

The Hilltoppers will have to make up for the departures of two cornerstones in the front court, Lone Star Conference All-Defensive center Sammie Dufek, Third Team All-LSC forward Morgan Gary, and a sixth man off the bench Croatian guard Matilda Soric. On the other hand, SEU is bringing back three of five starters and over 60% of their total minutes from a year ago.

Head coach JJ Riehl said that this is the “deepest team we’ve had since the 2016-2017 season,” the last time that the Hilltopper squad appeared in the NCAA Tournament. 

“It’s their energy, their love for our process and our journey,” Riehl said. 

Seniors Ronnie Cantu and Lauren Catherman are the only members of the 2020 recruiting class still in the program. Catherman, a back-to-back member of the All-LSC Honorable Mention team, brings excellent athleticism and a knack for getting to the freeline to the Hilltoppers. Graduate student Jayda Ruffus-Milner was also a member of the All-LSC Honorable Mention Team. The California native and Pepperdine University transfer shined in her first season with the program, averaging 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game. 

Injuries struck the Hilltoppers’ guards last season, and the return of juniors Isabel Langenberg and Rebeka Renczes will be factors to watch this season. Both of them are coming off torn ACLs. Langenberg fully tore her ACL and partially tore her MCL in February. Renczces, who transferred last season from New Mexico, tore her ACL in last year’s preseason. 

This year, the team brings in five newcomers; three freshmen JP Perkins, Addie McCormick, and Bailey Featherstone, and two transfers Celise Bobbitt and Abbey Morton. Four of the five additions come from within the Lone Star State. 

Morton, a forward from Wagga Wagga, Australia, transferred from Eastern Kentucky University. Morton played one season with the Wagga Blaze in the Waratah League. The same team that assistant coaches Khiani Clark and Shakera played for overseas. 

Celise Bobbitt, a 5-foot-10-inch junior forward transfers in from Weatherford College. Bobbitt is a two-time All-North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference Honorable Mention. Perkins, is a 5-foot-3-inch guard, from Highlands High School in San Antonio. McCormick is a 5-foot-6-inch guard from just up the road in Georgetown out of East View High School. Featherstone is a 5-foot-9-inch forward hailing from nearby Round Rock High School.

Cantu said that the team enters the season feeling like it is a “no regrets year.”

“There’s no space for settling for less,” Cantu said. “Right now, settling for less is just making the conference tournament. We want a ring on our finger. We want a natty. That is the goal and has always been the goal. The beauty of this team is that it is on everybody’s mind.” 

On Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. Mountain time, the first game against Regis University will take place in Golden, Colorado for the Lone Star and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. 

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About the Contributor
Jack Connolly, Staff Writer
Jack is a junior from Omaha, Nebraska and this is his second year writing with "Hilltop Views" as a Staff Writer. He loves sports but will also write about music, social issues and politics.

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