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Ricker-Led Jayhawks Ready To Go

Jamestown Community College Jayhawks, Hannah Hicks and Nadara Odell, help teammate Amari Carter fish a ball out of a water hazard during the Exceptional Stars putt-putt outing this past weekend. Submitted photo

Since early September, Jamestown Community College women’s basketball coach Ken Ricker has been running his team through conditioning and preseason work, totaling eight hours per week.

Beginning today, the 12-member team is moving to the gymnasium at the Physical Education Complex as the next phase of preparation will expand to 20 hours per week as it gears up for the start of the season after the first of the year.

Four freshmen from Dunkirk — Jessica Beehler, Kymi Nance, Nadara Odell and Amari Carter — are expected to play significant roles in Ricker’s first year at the helm.

“They’ll be a huge part of what we do,” Ricker said Monday afternoon. “I was really lucky that they all wanted to come with us.”

During their final season at Dunkirk High School — Ricker was their coach during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns — the quartet led the Lady Marauders to one of the finest seasons in school history, capped by an amazing come-from-behind win over Southwestern in the Section VI Class B crossover game at Buffalo State Sports Arena.

Thanks to COVID-19, however, the postseason came to an abrupt halt, Ricker took the Jayhawks’ job shortly thereafter and four of his former players ultimately decided to join him.

“The nice part is they’re not just going to have good careers at JCC, I’m convinced all four will be able to play beyond that,” Ricker said. “They’re just getting better every day. I’ve told them that they will be better college players than high school players. They look at us funny, but it’s true. They’re just figuring it out and they’re now coming into their own.”

On Saturday, the team had what Ricker called a “double-dipper,” volunteering at the George Bataitis Open golf tournament followed by helping out with the Exceptional Stars miniature golf event in Lakewood.

“I think we have a great group,” Ricker said. “The Dunkirk kids know each other well, and three of the others played AAU. We’re just all in this together. It’s part of what we want anyways in building a culture. What’s going on with our country, our campus and COVID, I think it has brought us together and they’ve done a great job.”

The other indoor athletic programs at Jamestown CC will all start their preparations this week, too.

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