A little more than two months have passed since coach Betsy Witman watched her York College women's basketball team walk off the floor at the Grumbacher Center after a disappointing 67-52 loss to Baldwin Wallace in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
It was an abrupt and somewhat surprising end for the winningest senior class in program history.
"I think a lot of our concern was how Aja was doing," Witman said of her four-year point guard, Aja Wallpher, who suffered a concussion in the closing minutes of the tournament loss and had to be wheeled off the floor on a stretcher and taken to York Hospital. "It was a distraction."
Once Wallpher was released from the hospital a couple days later, Witman allowed time for reflection.
"I know we didn't play well in that last game. I had to just remind myself of the big picture and what we did accomplish," Witman said. "At some point it had to come to an end. It would have been nice to have gone one more step into the Sweet 16. But we would've had to play the eventual national champions (FDU-Florham). But it would've been cool to go up there and play them. But it wasn't meant to be."
Now the reigning Capital Athletic Conference Coach of the Year is on to her next step, by welcoming a talented incoming recruiting class of five new players that features Red Lion High School graduate Morgan Kuehne and Susquehannock grad Katie Wagner. The latter pair will join two other local women already on the squad: York Catholic grad Karli McFatridge and West York grad Sarah Shearer.
Witman took a 15-minute break recently in her office at the Grumbacher to chat about her incoming recruits. She was in the process of putting together a bus schedule for the school's successful lacrosse teams, which is one of her many responsibilities in a full-time role in the school's athletics department.
Anyway, Witman feels her returning players and incoming freshmen will make for a very good team next season. And that's saying a lot, considering Witman will somehow have to replace forwards Brittany Hicks (All-American, all-conference first-team and CAC Player of the Year), Kristen Haley (all-conference first-team and d3hoops.com all-region), Wallpher (all-conference second-team) and shooting guard Kelsey Murphy. Each of the four players holds at least two career records for the Spartans, who, over the last four years, won two CAC Tournament titles and a regular-season CAC crown and made three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2012.
Witman said returning starter Jess Selby and last season's sixth player, Sam Hruz, likely have starting spots already locked down for next season.
"Boy, it's wide open after that, to me," Witman said. "I know all of our players from last year are working extremely hard. We lost on Saturday in the NCAAs and they were in the gym Monday. In the weight room. They had a team meeting and said, 'this is how we want to do things and we want to be really dedicated.'"
Here's a look at Witman's 2014 recruiting class of five players who will join the Spartans on the hardwood next season:
Wagner: Wagner is 5-foot-7 guard who averaged 14.1 points per game in 29 games last season for Susquehannock, helping the Warriors reach the District 3-AAA championship game. According to Witman, Wagner finished with 1,013 career points.
Kuehne: Kuehne is a 5-foot-10 forward who averaged 17.4 points per game last season, the sixth-highest average among York-Adams League players. She helped Red Lion reach the District 3-AAAA quarterfinals. According to Witman, Kuehne tallied 936 career points for the Lions.
Wiseley: According to The Express-Times newspaper in Lehigh Valley, Beth Wiseley averaged 13.4 points per game last season to finish with 811 career points in 88 games (9.2 points-per-game career average), tallied the second-most single-season 3-pointers last season (50) and second-most career 3-pointers (122) in Emmaus High School program history. According to Witman, Wiseley is a 5-foot-11 guard who also served as her class president.
Mocniak: According to numbers provided by Witman, Sam Mocniak is a 5-foot-9 guard who collected 1,039 career points at St. Mary's (Md.) High School and averaged 19.1 points per game last season, earning all-county honors.
Patrick: According to Witman, Beth Patrick is a 5-foot-7 guard who amassed 1,309 points and 769 rebounds in her career at Pitman (N.J.) High School and last season earned all-county honors. Patrick will also attempt to play field hockey in the fall for York College.
— Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org.