Ricker, JCC Women Ready For ‘Different’ Season
Ken Ricker, Jamestown Community College’s first-year women’s basketball coach, has been riding a figurative roller-coaster the last 12 months.
It was almost exactly a year ago that he guided the Dunkirk High School girls team to its first Section VI championship in 30 years and a berth in the Far West Regional. A win there would have meant a trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class B Final Four.
Sadly, COVID-19 took that all away. On top of that, Ricker, who was named the Jayhawks’ coach in March following the resignation of Travis Wells, suffered a serious back injury after a fall while painting a house last summer.
“Between the way our high school season ended last year and my injuries,” Ricker said, “just having an opportunity to be able to coach and play means so much, maybe more than it would have before.”
Ricker and the Jayhawks were scheduled to open their regular season on Friday against Bryant & Stratton of Albany but that game has been canceled and, instead, they will make their 2021 debut at 3 p.m. Saturday against Lackawanna College.
In addition, the Jayhawks’ eight-game regular-season schedule will include four games against Niagara County CC, the only other NJCAA Region 3 Division II program that has elected to play this season.
Consequently, both teams have an automatic berth into the regional title game at the home of the higher seed.
“We’re really excited,” Ricker said. “It’s very different with only one other junior college team in New York state playing women’s basketball. The fact that our school has made a commitment to us and to finding ways to safely allow it to happen I’m really proud of that.”
He’s also proud of his team’s perseverance.
“Obviously, we’ve been dealing with the unknown for 12 months now, with everything,” Ricker said. “All first semester we heard we were going to have a season and then we were told that might not happen, so I’ve been really proud that they just continued to show up and work hard. … For them to stick with it and keep working and continuing to persevere is what we’re’ going to remember this season for, regardless of wins and losses.”
Ricker has a nine-player roster after starting the first semester with 12.
“Twelve is a great number, because it really allows us to do so many things we love to do,” he said. “Unfortunately we lost a few of those girls. … Things happen. … We certainly can’t blame anyone who chose not to come back. The nine we have are very solid and are working very hard at it. We’ll make due with it as long as we can get by without any illness or injury.”
The roster includes two sophomores — 5-foot-5 guard Macey Lundmark (Jamestown/Jamestown) and 5-6 Marisa Schuppenhauer (Jamestown/Maple Grove) — and seven freshmen. The first-year players include four from Dunkirk — 5-7 forward Nadara Odell, 5-5 guard Jessica Beehler, 5-5 guard Kymi Nance and 6-0 center Amari Carter — who were part of the Marauders’ sectional title team. The other three frosh are 5-7 guard Sydney Burk (Jamestown/Southwestern), 6-0 forward Hannah Hicks (Cleveland/Cleveland Heights) and 5-4 guard Kate Tedquist (Penrose, Colorado/Canon City).
“We’re going to play fast,” said Ricker, who will be assisted by Bill Canfield. “Our strength is certainly our athletes, and our post players — Carter and Hicks — are going to be a handful inside. Our goal is to shoot a lot of 3s and a whole lot of layups, too.
“Bill and I have really come to love this style. It’s fun for the kids. As a coach when you play this style, you give up a lot. In terms of freedom, it’s a players’ system.”
How that “system” will work against Niagara County CC remains to be seen
“We’re going to have to play Niagara County five times,” Ricker said. “It’s very unusual, but it’s cool. We expect to play in the regional championship every year we’re here, but this year it’s a guarantee. The first four games will be a testing ground for both teams.”
Feb. 27: Lackawanna College, 3 p.m.
March 3: at Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
March 6: at Lackawanna College, 1 p.m.
March 9: at Bryant & Stratton Rochester, 5 p.m.
March 12: Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
March 19: at Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
March 24: Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
March 27: Union City College, 4 p.m.
April 3: Region 3 Championship
vs. Niagara County CC at higher seed, TBA.