Competing with a still-developing roster in one of the nation’s top women’s basketball conferences, the Linfield Wildcats found themselves on the losing side of the scoreboard more often than not during a difficult 2012-13 season.
Coach Robin Potera-Haskins’ third season got off to a rocky start. Injuries cost the team several promising players who were expected to contribute. And during an out-of-conference trip to southern California, a majority of the team’s members were stricken with food poisoning, forcing the cancelation of two games and the rescheduling of another contest.
After a nearly two-week interruption to recover, Linfield resumed its schedule, only to be overwhelmed by eventual champion Lewis & Clark in the Wildcats’ first game back.
The long layoff robbed the team of gaining any early season momentum and the program sputtered to a 3-19 overall record, including a 2-14 mark in the Northwest Conference. The ‘Cats shared last place in the league standings with Willamette.
Despite the lack of victories, Potera-Haskins was not unhappy.
“Overall, the girls’ effort was tremendous,” she said. “We were extremely competitive in nearly every game. We constantly battled, losing six games by six points or fewer.”
The NWC was especially challenging, with three teams earning coveted berths to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Linfield was the only conference team to slot two players among the top-10 statistical rankings in scoring and rebounding. Kaely Maltman (11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds per game) and Katelyn Henson (11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds) were Linfield’s most consistently productive players.
Henson, the team’s leading scorer in 11 of 22 games, was rewarded for her steady play with a second-team all-Northwest Conference citation. Maltman, who also topped the Linfield scoring column 11 times, merited honorable mention on the conference’s all-star team.
Three first-year players joined Maltman, a junior, and Henson, a sophomore, in the starting lineup.
Freshman Catie Mets started 18 games in the Linfield backcourt, averaging 5.0 points and 1.2 assists. Taylor Solomon averaged 1.2 assists and 6.6 points while making 15 starts. Freshmen Jessica McMillan, Tegan Grunwald and sophomore Alex Christensen also took turns among the starting five. Senior Nicole Barton was a reliable contributor in a starting role or off the bench.
Potera-Haskins admired the growth among her young players, noting “they continue to learn and adjust to the speed and pace of the game. That takes time to develop.”
One of the Wildcats’ greatest deficiencies was at the free throw line. One season ago, Linfield shot .718 at the line but that figured drooped to a conference-low .518. Three-point field goal accuracy was another key concern. The Wildcats managed a .256 clip from outside the arc, the second-lowest percentage among the NWC’s nine teams.