Women’s basketball seeks A-R-C title


Photo by Coby Berg

by Quinn Slaven, Staff Reporter

An experienced Simpson College women’s basketball squad looks to compete for an American Rivers Conference championship as they begin their 2019-2020 campaign. 

The Storm are led by the NCAA’s leading three-point percentage shooter Jenna Taylor and four all-conference returners this season. The squad held their first practice on Oct. 20. This comes one week later than the official start to the season. 

“It’s just an NCAA rule that either you take a week off for Christmas or you start late, and we’re going on a nice trip, so we’re not taking the week off,” head coach Brian Niemuth said. The team will compete in a tournament in Nashville, TN. 

Still, even with the late start, Niemuth is excited about the early progress. A talented incoming class of seven first-years has impressed both coaches and veteran players like Taylor.

“All the freshman have really bought into our system and have picked up things really quickly,” Taylor said. 

The entire team’s readiness will be tested early as the Storm opens its schedule with a decorated Division I opponent, Drake University. The Bulldogs won a conference championship last year and have honored a player as the conference MVP for the past three seasons. 

“What we’re looking for is us just trying to come out of it learning a few things, trying to get a little bit better as a team and getting us ready for our real opening game when we go up to Wisconsin,” Niemuth said. “I think they’ve got the right attitude that it’s a challenge they’ll go out and battle.”

The Storm will compete in a tournament on Nov. 15 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Regardless of where they start, all eyes are fixed on where the team wants to finish: Hoisting a conference championship trophy. Last year, Simpson finished third behind the Wartburg Knights and Loras Duhawks. 

Joining Taylor on the all-conference team were seniors Cassie Chubb, Claire Johnson and junior Cameron Kincaid. Simpson will look for them to continue their influence on the game, especially as teams plan to combat Taylor’s electric production from beyond the arc. 

“Now teams aren’t going to give her those open threes,” Niemuth said. “It’ll be up to myself and her to figure out how to get those open shots, and it’s up to her teammates to score and take a little of that pressure off her.”

Taylor already feels a relief of pressure, despite the high expectations. She trusts in her teammates’ abilities to take over on the court both as performers and leaders.

“Cassie Chubb and Claire Johnson are two of the other captains and have been leading very well vocally throughout the preseason,” Taylor said. “Other upperclassmen like Allyson Simpson, Maddie Glascock, Kelli Hanson and Cameron Kincaid do an awesome job of leading by example in practice and workouts as well.”

Simpson returns six of the top eight scorers from last year’s team. While they finished third, the Storm led the conference in scoring. 

The women’s basketball team will play their first home game at 5 p.m. on Nov. 26 in Cowles Fieldhouse.