Women’s Basketball News Archive 2016-2017

Women’s Basketball adds three more for upcoming season

Hesston College women’s basketball coach Jeff Jacobs announces Shaelyn Headrick, a 5’5” guard from Cheraw (Colo.) High School, Carissa Slabach, a 5’8” guard from Berean Academy, Elbing, Kan., and Reva Smith, a 5’5” guard from Nowata (Okla.) High School, as the latest additions to the Larks program.

Headrick, a four-time All-High Plains Conference player, will study elementary education at Hesston. She attends East Holbrook Mennonite Church, La Junta, Colo.

Headrick is the daughter of Clifton and Sandie Headrick, Cheraw.

Slabach was a three-sport athlete at Berean, helping the cross country team to a state title in 2012. She attends Immanuel Baptist Church, Newton, Kan., and will study nursing at Hesston.

Slabach is the daughter of Troy and Michelle Slabach, Newton.

Smith, an all-conference player during her junior and senior seasons, will study physical therapy at Hesston. She attends Falls Creek Baptist Church.

Smith is the daughter of Sonya and Randall Smith, Nowata.

“Shaelyn, Carissa and Reva all exemplify what our program is seeking – high character young women who want to play the game the right way and work hard on the court and in the classroom,” Jacobs said. “I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Women’s Basketball signs Horton to letter-of-intent

Hesston College women’s basketball coach Jeff Jacobs announces Kara Horton, a 5’10” power forward from Northern Heights High School, Allen, Kan., as the latest addition to the Larks program.

A second-team all-Flint Hills League player, Horton was an all-state honorable mention selection as a season. She played volleyball and softball in addition to basketball for Northern Heights High.

Horton earned Flint Hills League Academic Team recognition all four years in high school and is a National Honor Society member. She will study pre-veterinary studies at Hesston.

“Assistant coach Kelsey Jacobs and I are thrilled Kara will be part of our program,” Jacobs said. “She’s a ferocious competitor on the court and carries herself with quiet confidence off the court. Hesston College is blessed to have Kara join our family.”

Horton attends Faith Lutheran Church, Emporia, Kan., and is active in the youth group there. She is the daughter of Matt and Stacie Horton, Americus, Kan.

For the love of the game: Alumna to make NFL coaching debut

“Oh, wow, you play football?” the young woman asked Katie Sowers, who was waiting to have her photo taken for this story in the locker room also being used by the girl’s high school basketball team that was warming up for upcoming tipoff. “I would love to play football!”

“You can!” Sowers encouraged. “How old are you?”


“Three more years,” was Sowers’ reply. “Come try out for the Titans in three years. Maybe I’ll be throwing passes to you!”

More often than not, Sowers said, people look at her skeptically when she tells them she plays professional football. A lot of the time they think she means football as most of the world knows it – soccer – but she does, in fact, mean American tackle football – full pads, helmet, the whole nine yards – or ten, rather.

Katie SowersSowers, a 2006 Hesston College graduate, is the quarterback for the Kansas City Titans, one of 45 teams in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA). In 2013 she played defensive back for the United States IFAF Women’s World Championship (WWC) team that brought home gold from Finland. She was also selected for the WWC all-tournament team and was named game MVP in the semi-final win over Germany after snagging five interceptions and returning three for touchdowns.

It’s no secret that the National Football League (NFL) is male dominated, but women are beginning to make their way into the “boys club.” Sowers is now among the few who have achieved just that.

From July 24 through the second preseason game on Aug. 20, Sowers will work with the Atlanta Falcon’s wide receivers through the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship, an internship program with notable alumni including Marvin Lewis and Mike Tomlin. In 2015, this same program made Dr. Jen Welter famous for being the first female participant. Sowers is excited for the opportunity and for working with Julio Jones, who many consider the best receiver in the game.

Sowers is also hopeful that the opportunity will boost her career goals.

“My long term goal is to be a head coach and then move on to executive management,” Sowers said. “It’s not a typical path, but then again, nothing about what I’m doing is typical.”

Back in Kansas City, when she’s not suited up, Sowers spends time on the sideline as a coach, including positions with Kansas City-area junior high and youth teams, as offensive coordinator and general manager for her own Titans team. In January, she was a member of Charlie Weis’ coaching staff at the East-West Shrine Game, the nation’s top college senior bowl for NFL hopefuls.

One demographic that doesn’t bat an eye when they find out what she does, however, is young girls. Many of them get excited that they, like Sowers, could help break down gender stereotypes surrounding the sport and be involved with football someday, too.

Her dedication and commitment to the sport isn’t to prove a point though; it’s just because she loves football.

“Football has been my favorite sport since I was a kid,” Sowers said. “After Grandma’s Sunday dinner, my sister and I would call all the boys we knew to come play football with us.”

Growing up in Hesston, however, she and her twin sister Liz Sowers, also a Hesston High and Hesston College graduate, like most girls, thought football was a boys’ sport so they stuck to playing basketball in high school and at Hesston College. A gifted natural athlete, Sowers continued playing basketball at Goshen (Ind.) College, as well as participating in track for two years and soccer for one. During the last couple of years of college, the sisters discovered professional women’s football and began playing for the West Michigan Mayhem in Kalamazoo – Liz as wide receiver to Katie’s quarterback, a pairing they continue for the Titans.

For now, all of her football commitments are held in balance to her job as athletic director for the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department. WFA players are volunteers, so most of them also work other jobs.

Sowers notes that too many injuries are taking their toll, so her playing career likely won’t last long enough to throw passes to the young lady she met in the locker room. So begins an ascent in the coaching world.

Her East Team coaching appointment in St. Petersburg, Fla., in January came about through a connection with Scott Pioli, former general manager for the Kansas City Chiefs and current assistant general manager for the Atlanta Falcons. The two became acquainted when Sowers coached Pioli’s daughter’s fifth-grade basketball team. Pioli is on the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Advisory Council, which gives talented minority coaches opportunities to gain experience and, ultimately, a full-time NFL coaching position.

“Scott asked Charlie Weis if he would be open to having a female assistant coach for the East-West game and he [Weis] was very receptive to it,” said Sowers. “Coaching with so many seasoned coaches and former players was great. I gained valuable insight from my colleagues, and I hope the players and coaches learned something from me, too. I think they did.”

Games like the East-West Shrine Game often foster a negative atmosphere, Sowers noted. Players with professional aspirations compete against one another to stand out for NFL scouts, making tensions run high. Sowers was not interested in the negativity.

“While I was down there, I was on the phone with my mom and I told her I was going to give these people the Hesston College Experience!” said Sowers with a laugh. “Hesston College is one place where you encounter smiles and friendliness everywhere. The college’s kind, supportive atmosphere has really stuck with me, and it’s something I can bring to wherever I am.”

One unexpected and affirming moment came during the game, too. The young Shriner’s Hospital patient who performed the national anthem was asked if she would like to meet any of the coaches or players. She only wanted Sowers’ autograph.

Sowers considers it an honor and great responsibility to be that kind of role model for girls, but she hopes women in professional football also stop becoming newsworthy.

“I hope that someday when a woman is hired to a professional football role that it’s not a headline,” said Sowers. “I want to be a full-time coach or executive in the game, but I want it to be because of my knowledge and qualifications.”














Women’s basketball signs Hutchinson guard

Hesston College Women’s Basketball announces Connor Atkinson, a point guard/shooting guard from Hutchinson (Kan.) High School, as the newest member of the Larks program.

An all-Reno County second-team player, Atkinson averaged over six points and five assists per season as a senior. Aside from basketball, she participated in track and tennis at Hutchinson High. Atkinson is an all-Honors student who is deciding her major. She attends First Church of the Nazarene, Hutchinson.

Atkinson attends First Church of the Nazarene, Hutchinson. She is the daughter of Brad and Ali Atkinson, Hutchinson.

Hesston College announces new women’s basketball coach

Hesston College athletic director Rob Ramseyer introduces Jeff Jacobs as head coach of the Larks women’s basketball program.

“We’re thrilled to bring Jeff to campus in this important role,” Ramseyer said. “He has vast experience in coaching, mentoring, organization and leadership. I’m eager to see how he puts his talents to use for our women’s basketball program.”

Jacobs boasts a 303-117 career coaching record at St. Bernard High School, Eureka, Calif., including over 200 wins with the girls basketball program there. Jacobs holds a bachelor of arts in journalism from Humboldt State University, Arcata, California.

Following his time in coaching, Jacobs served as an executive in the Boys and Girls Club, first in California and later in the Wichita area. Jacobs is active as a deacon at Magdalene Catholic Church, Wichita.

“I’m honored and blessed to be called back to teaching and coaching the great game of basketball,” Jacobs said. “I look forward to getting to know the returning student athletes, filling the roster and guiding these terrific young women into being the best student, person and player they can be.”

Larks fly past Greyhounds into second round of playoffs

The Hesston College women’s basketball team overcame a slow start to earn an impressive 73-62 road win at Fort Scott (Kan.) CC on Saturday, Feb. 27 in the opening round of the Region VI playoffs.

Down 16-9 after the first period, the Larks dominated the final three quarters, outscoring the Greyhounds 64-46 to advance. The Hesston bench outscored FSCC 17-2. The Larks controlled the paint as well with a 32-18 scoring advantage.

Jessanna Nebel (Hesston, Kan.) tallied 17 points and Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) added 15 to lead Hesston’s scoring. Kelsey Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) added 10 points and nine rebounds. Jermani Thompson (Reserve, La.) scored 13.

The Hesston defense smothered FSCC all game long, holding the Greyhounds’ top scorer without a made field goal the entire game. FSCC shot just 31.8 percent from the floor.

The Larks battle defending national champion Johnson County CC (Overland Park, Kan.) on Tuesday, March 1.

Unruh’s buzzer-beater gives Larks road win

The Hesston College women’s basketball team came back from a small 4th-quarter deficit to earn a 66-64 win at Labette CC (Parson, Kan.). Hesston has won three of its last four games to climb to 12-14 on the year.

Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) led the Larks with 20 points while Nicole Unruh (Cherokee, Okla.) added 15 counters and 10 boards. Jacque Anderson (Newton, Kan.) and Brooke Hammond (Long Island, Kan.) scored a dozen points each.

Unruh found the net on a 15-footer from the baseline as time expired to seal the win.

Hesston shot a scorching 64 percent (16-of-25) from the floor in the first half and carried a 40-33 lead into halftime before Labette answered with a 17-7 3rd-quarter edge. The Larks connected on 7-of-11 first-half three-pint attempts.

Hesston travels Highland (Kan.) CC for a 1 p.m. tip on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Hesston pulls away for home win

The Hesston College women’s basketball team upped its season mark to 10-13 following a 84-68 home win over Brown Mackie College (Salina, Kan.) on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The Larks held a 44-40 edge at halftime before outscoring BMC 19-8 in the third quarter to coast to the win.

Jessanna Nebel (Hesston, Kan.) led all scorers with 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Brooke Hammond (Long Island, Kan.) connected on 5-of-8 treys and finished with 20 points. Kelsey Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) Added a dozen points and a game-high 10 boards.

The Hesston offense was on fire the entire night, shooting just under 50 percent (30-of-61) for the game including an incredible 68.8 percent (11-of-16) from beyond the arc. The Larks held a 40-30 advantage on the boards.

Hesston hosts Fort Scott (Kan.) CC at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13

Larks continue hot streak with big home win

The Hesston College women’s basketball team continued its recent success with a convincing 76-56 home win over Northwest Kansas Tech on Saturday, Jan. 23. Winners of six of its last eight games, Hesston Women’s Basketball has improved to 9-10 on the year after a 3-8 start.

Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) connected on all 10 of her free throw attempts en route to a 20-point and six-rebound night. Michaela Zook (Millersburg, Kan.) added 13 points and Jacque Anderson (Newton, Kan.) scored 12. Brooke Hammond (Long Island, Kan.) scored 12 points and grabbed six boards in the win.

The Larks broke open a close game with a 25-11 edge in the third quarter before putting the game away with another 25-point period in the 4th.

The Larks are sitting at 2-1 in Region VI play and welcome Highland (Kan.) CC to Yost Center for a 6 p.m. game on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Hoover, Zook lead Larks to win in region opener

The Hesston College women’s basketball team won for the fourth time in its last five games; a 65-46 home win over Labette CC (Parsons, Kan.) to open Region VI play on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

After jumping out to a 17-7 lead after one quarter, Hesston found itself in a tight 24-23 game heading to intermission. The Larks responded with a 12-0 run to open the third and never looked back, cruising to the 19-point win.

Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) scored 17 points (7-of-8 free throws), while Mikaela Zook (Millersburg, Ind.) brushed off a slow start to finish with 17 points of her own.

Both teams struggled from the floor, as Hesston connected on 28.4 percent of its field goal attempts and Labette went 17-for-68 (25 percent).

Hesston improves to 7-9 and travels to Brown Mackie College (Salina, Kan.) for a 1 p.m. tip on Saturday, Jan. 16.

Larks storm back for road win

The Hesston College women’s basketball team came back from a 14-point halftime deficit to claim a huge 77-73 win at Sterling (Kan.) College JV on Monday, Jan. 11.

Jermani Thompson (Reserve, La.) poured in 18 points to lead the way for Hesston. Thompson connected on 2-of-3 treys and finished 6-for-12 overall from the floor.

Micaela Zook (Millersburg, Ind.) and Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) added 13 points each, with Hoover grabbing six rebounds. Kelsey Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) and Brooke Hammond (Long Island, Kan.) chipped in with 11 points apiece.

The Larks shot 45 percent from the floor (27-of-60) for the game while holding Sterling JV to 8-of-31 in the final 20 minutes (25.8 percent) of play.

Down 48-34 at half and 63-54 heading into the final quarter, the Hesston offense came alive for a dominating 23-10 edge in the fourth quarter to sneak away with the win.

Now 6-9 on the year, Hesston returns to Yost Center for a 6 p.m. tip with Labette CC (Parsons, Kan.) on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Larks win again, top Colby

The Hesston College women’s basketball team used a dominant fourth quarter to capture a 57-49 win over Colby (Kan.) CC on Monday, Dec. 7, improving its season mark to 5-8.

Up 44-43 after three quarters of play, the Larks defense clamped down on Colby, holding the visitors to 16.7 percent from the floor in the final 10 minutes.

Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) led all scores with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Kelsey Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) added 11 points and Jermani Thompson (Reserve, La.) contributed nine.

Hesston looks to win its third straight in the final game of the fall semester, a 7 p.m. tip at Tabor College JV (Hillsboro, Kan) on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Hesston women record big home win

The Hesston College women’s basketball team came up big at home with a 72-66 win over Cottey College (Nevada, Mo.) on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Larks raced to a 23-12 lead after the first quarter and took a 43-26 advantage into the break.

Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) just missed a double-double after she scored a dozen points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Jacque Anderson (Newton, Kan.) added 11 points and eight rebounds. Mikaela Zook (Millersburg, Ind.) scored 10 points and dished out six assists.
Kelsey Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) added 12 points.

Hesston forced 16 turnovers to improve to 4-8 on the year. The Larks look to make it two straight wins with a 5 p.m. home game against Colby (Kan.) CC on Monday, Dec. 7. Hesston will close its fall-semester schedule with a Dec. 9 road trip to Tabor College JV (Hillsboro, Kan.)

Larks snap skid with big home win

The Hesston College women’s basketball team defeated Sterling (Kan.) College JV 67-52 on Saturday, Nov. 14, ending the Larks’ five-game losing streak.

Mikaela Zook (Millersburg, Ind.) enjoyed a big day with 19 points (8-of-16 shooting), nine boards and six assists. Kayla Travis (Peyton, Colo.) added 12 points. Brooke Hammond (Long Island, Kan.) scored 13 and Jermani Thompson added 10.

The Larks led 43-24 at halftime and cruised to the home win.

Hesston is now 3-5 on the year. The Larks travel to Kansas Wesleyan University JV (Salina, Kan.) for a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Larks go cold in second half, fall to Allen

The Hesston College women’s basketball team dropped a 66-56 non-region contest to Allen CC (Iola, Kan.) on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Up 28-26 at the break, the Larks battled foul trouble and weren’t able to maintain consistency on the offensive end, falling to 2-4 on the year. Hesston shot 25 percent from the floor for the game and was 0-for-9 from beyond the arc.

Allen had offensive struggles of their own, as the visiting Red Devils connected on just 31.3 percent before the break before warming up just enough to escape Yost Center with the win.

Freshman Kelsey Unruh (Hesston, Kan.) led Hesston with 20 points before fouling out with three minutes to play. Sarah Hoover (Elbing, Kan.) added 11 points (9-of-12 from the line) and five rebounds before she collected her fifth foul in the final minute.

Hesston looks to snap a four-game losing streak when the Larks host Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College (Moore, Okla.) for a 6 p.m. tip on Thursday, Nov. 12.