Women’s Basketball News Archive 2016-2017

Larks fall to Bulldogs to open 2017

The Hesston College women’s basketball team returned to the court after nearly a month off and fell 80-69 to McPherson College JV at the MC Sports Center in McPherson. Their last game came in Hesston on December 10, 2016; a 122-58 loss to Northwest Kansas Tech.

With the win the Bulldogs even up the series with the Larks, as Hesston College defeated McPherson JV 78-62 November 21 at Yost Center.

Freshman point guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) led the way in a losing effort, scoring 24 points, 18 in the first half. Freshman forward Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) added 13 points, and freshman guard Whitney Green (Texarkana, Ark.) chipped in 11. Amanda Allen’s 27 points (game high) helped pave the way for the Bulldogs.

“They played three of their varsity starters against us, so it was a different team from the first time we played them,” Head Coach Jeff Jacobs commented after the game. “We played hard, but their size got the better of us.”

Hesston College women’s basketball dips to 7-8 overall, as they head into a tough stretch of the second half schedule. The Larks will host Kansas City Kansas Community College Saturday, January 14, at Yost Center. Tipoff is 1:30 p.m.

Atkinson free throws the difference as Larks edge Comets

Freshman point guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) connected on three free throws in the final 30 seconds to help lead the Hesston College women’s basketball team past the Cottey College Comets, 71-69.

The Larks had a nice shooting first quarter and took a 16-13 advantage over the Comets into the break. Cottey College responded with a 13-0 run to begin the second and a 26-16 lead. Hesston College crept back into contention with consecutive baskets and trailed only by one point, 35-34 at halftime.

A back and forth third quarter saw the Larks go in front 50-48 with a three-point basket at the end of the quarter by Connor Atkinson. The fourth quarter saw the Comets sneak ahead by two points, 68-66, with under two minutes remaining, before Atkinson converted 3 of 4 free throw attempts down the stretch.

Hesston was paced by Atkinson and freshman forward Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.) who each scored 16 points. Freshman guard Reva Smith (Nowata, Okla.) added 11 for the Larks. Hesston split the series with the Comets, as Cottey College defeated the Larks 67-41 in Nevada, Mo., last month.

“We allowed Cottey College to force us into their slowed down game. Once we sped up and executed our offense, we pulled out the win,” coach Jeff Jacobs commented after the game.

The Larks will begin Region VI play with a home game Saturday, December 10, vs. Northwest Kansas Tech (Goodland). Tip off against the Mustangs will be 2 p.m. from Yost Center.

Larks stumble late, fall to Raiders

The Hesston College women’s basketball team traveled to Columbus, Neb., Sunday, but lost at Raider Fieldhouse on the campus of Central Community College 99-84. The Raiders took a 31-20 advantage after the first quarter, and led 50-31 at halftime. A hot shooting Larks in the third quarter allowed them to storm back and take a 74-71 edge into the fourth quarter. The shots weren’t dropping and defensive play loosened as Central Community College outscored Hesston College 28-10 in final frame to hold on for the win.

Freshman forward Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.) had a big game for the Larks scoring 25 points to go with 11 rebounds. Hesston had problems guarding the Raiders’ Teisha Snyder, who had a hot hand, leading all scorers with 37 points.

“We were ahead going into the fourth quarter, then they started hitting threes,” head coach Jeff Jacobs said following the game. “We let it slip away.”

With the loss, the Larks drop to 6-6 overall. They return to Hesston for a Tuesday, December 6, game vs. Cottey College (Nevada, Mo.) The Larks fell on the road to the Comets 67-41 November 5. Tipoff from Yost Center on Tuesday will be 7 p.m.

Big second quarter pushes Larks past Threshers

Hesston College women’s basketball outscored Bethel College JV 27-11 in the second quarter, running away from the visiting Threshers 74-62.

After leading 17-16 at the end of the first quarter, Hesston College connected on five three-point baskets in the second, racing out to a 20 point lead with a 25-8 scoring run. Freshman point guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) led the charge with 16 first half points, finishing with 18. Hesston College took a 44-27 edge into halftime. The second half saw steady play from the Larks, as Bethel was only able to get within 12 points after a 5-0 run in fourth quarter.

Freshman forwards Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.) and Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) added 14 and 12, respectively. Freshman guard Reva Smith (Nowata, Okla.) scored 11. The Threshers were led by Karlie Schroeder’s game high 23 points.

The win evens the Larks record at 5-5 and avenges the season opening loss to Bethel JV. The loss drops the Threshers to 2-4.

Hesston College women’s basketball will be back in action on Saturday, Nov. 26, when they take on Southeast Community College of Beatrice, Neb. The Larks fell on the road to the Storm 74-62 on Nov. 12. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

Larks rally to beat Storm

The Hesston College women’s basketball team shrugged off a slow start to come back and defeat the visiting Southeast Community College (Beatrice, Neb.) Storm 80-78. The Larks were unable to find their offensive flow in the first half, trailing by 10 points midway through the second quarter. Hesston was able to chip away at the Storm lead, only trailing 42-39 at halftime. The Larks drastically improved their 25% shooting from the field in the second half.

Hesston started finding their rhythm and eventually took a four-point lead, 63-59, going into the final frame. A layup by freshman forward Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) pushed the Hesston lead to 63-54, their largest of the half at 9.

A back and forth final quarter saw the Larks convert a few clutch free throws to seal the win. After an inbounds play led to a technical foul called on the Storm, with the Larks trailing 78-77, freshman point guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) made two throws and the Larks were awarded possession. Atkinson converted 1 of 2 free throws on a subsequent foul to push the Lark lead to 80-78. The Storm had a final chance as they pushed the ball up the court, but missed a deep shot as time expired.

In her usual style, Atkinson made several key shots including five three-pointers, finishing with 21 points to lead Hesston College. Coach Jacobs received balanced scoring as three other players finished in double figures. Freshman forward Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.) scored 18 points going 12 of 13 from the free throw line. Slabach finished with 15 points, and freshman center Netanya Harrison (Omaha, Neb.) added 11. Ja’yla Brown was a force inside for Southeast, scoring a game high 23 points.

“We played like we practice, very hard,” coach Jeff Jacobs commented after the game. “It was very physical and we fought back and got them frustrated. The fourth quarter charge Aleena (Cook) took for us was the game changer.”

Hesston College women’s basketball looks for their fourth straight win on Dec. 3 at Union College (Lincoln, Neb.). Tipoff is 8 p.m.

Big fourth quarter carries Larks past McPherson

Hesston College women’s basketball, trailing by three points late in the third quarter, outscored the visiting Bulldogs 28-9 in final frame to win 78-62 at Hesston College on Monday evening.

After a slow shooting first few minutes, the Larks carried a 18-12 lead after the first quarter. The Bulldogs responded with an 11-0 run that was eventually halted by a baseline jumper from freshman Reva Smith (Nowata, Okla.) regaining the lead at 23-22 for the Larks. Both teams were content to defend in a 2-3 zone all evening, giving up long jump shots. McPherson connected on a pair of deep three point baskets late in the second quarter to take a 38-35 halftime lead.

The Larks used a 10-0 run to open up the third quarter when a steal turned into a fast break lay up and free throw converted by freshman point guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) put the Larks ahead 45-38. The Bulldogs’ Savanah Stanley kept her team close, scoring 11 of McPherson’s 15 points in the quarter as the Bulldogs took a slim one point lead at 51-50.

The Larks took control in the fourth quarter and cruised to a comfortable 78-62 victory. Hesston was led by Whitney Green’s (Texarkana, Ark.) 22 points. Connor Atkinson added 19 and freshman forward Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) chipped in 17 in the win.

“We played the fourth quarter like we practice and our conditioning wore them down. It was a nice win for us,” Coach Jacobs commented.

With the victory, Hesston moves to 4-5 with two big home games this weekend. Hesston College women’s basketball will return to action Friday, November 25, for a 6 p.m. tipoff vs. the Bethel College Threshers JV.

Women’s basketball knocks off Blue Jays

The Hesston College women’s basketball team defeated the visiting Tabor College Blue Jays JV 73-65 Tuesday night at the Yost Center.

Trailing 12-4 early in the first quarter, the Larks responded and found themselves tied at 20-20 after the first frame. Teams traded buckets in the second quarter, with Hesston College taking a slim 38-36 lead into halftime.

In the second half, the defensive effort showed as the Larks held the Blue Jays to 11 points in the 4th quarter, turning away several key possessions.

Hesston College had four players in double figures led by freshman forward Carissa Slabach’s (Newton, Kan.) 18 points. Freshman forward Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.) was a force down low all game adding 16 points in the winning effort. Freshman guard Shaelyn Headrick (Cheraw, Colo.) chipped in 12, and fellow freshman guard Whitney Green (Texarkana, Ark.) finished with 10 points off the bench.

“We had some good post play and were able to get inside,” Coach Jeff Jacobs commented. “If we keep practicing hard and having fun, we will be tough to beat.”

This is the first win over Tabor College JV in four years for the women’s basketball program. The win pushes the Larks to 3-4 overall.

The Larks will return to action Thursday night at home vs. Washburn JV. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m.

Lark women fall in Nebraska

Hesston College women’s basketball dropped a 74-62 game in to host Southeast Community College Storm (Beatrice, Neb.) on the weekend.

The Larks fell behind early trailing 20-11 after the first quarter, and were forced to play from behind from then on. In the second quarter some shots started to drop, but ultimately too many turnovers (21) lead to a 40-28 halftime lead for Southeast Community College.

HC started a rally in the third quarter and eventually pulled within six points at 53-47, with consecutive baskets by freshman Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.). The Larks outscored the Storm 15-13 in the quarter, but ran out of gas in the final frame as the Storm went on to win by a dozen. 74-62.

Horton led the Larks in scoring (12) with eight of those coming from the free throw line; she also pulled down 13 rebounds for a double double. Freshman guard Reva Smith (Nowata, Okla.) added 11 points as only two players scored in double figures for Hesston College. Jay’la Brown was a force inside for the Storm and led all scorers with 23 points.

“We had too many turnovers to win a game,” Coach Jeff Jacobs commented after the contest. “We played a better second half, but our freshman need to play both halves consistently.”

The Larks fall to 2-4 overall. Next- Hesston College Women’s basketball returns home for a Tuesday, Nov. 15, game vs. Tabor College JV at 5:30 p.m.

Slabach and Atkinson lead Larks past Warriors

Freshman forward Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) and guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) each scored 18 points to help lead the Hesston College women’s basketball team past the Sterling (Kan.) College Warriors JV 67-61. Freshman guard Reva Smith (Nowata, Okla.) added 16 points in the win for the Larks. Mayda Stallbaumer led the Warriors in scoring with 18.

A competitive first quarter saw Hesston and Sterling knotted up at 17-17. A couple of big three point shots made in the second quarter by Reva Smith helped propel the Larks to a 34-33 halftime lead. The second half was about as tightly as contested as the first half, with both teams scoring 15 in the third quarter. Hesston College went on a small 5-0 run late in the fourth quarter and converted on some clutch free throws down the stretch to hold off the pesky Warriors.

“Two wins on back to back nights, it was a good win for us,”” Coach Jeff Jacobs commented following the game.

The win moves the Larks to 2-3 overall. Hesston College will travel to Nebraska on the weekend to play Southeast Community College (Beatrice). Tipoff is at 2 p.m.

Larks women’s basketball get first win

Hesston College women’s basketball picked up their first win of the season topping the Lamar (Colo.) Community College Lopes 73-60 at Yost Center. The victory is also coach Jeff Jacobs’ first as Hesston’s head coach.

The Larks started off the game strongly, jumping out to a 23-13 lead after one quarter. Hesston, which shot nearly 50% from the field in the first half, increased their lead to 15 points in the second quarter, forcing the lopes into 17 turnovers giving the Larks a comfortable 44-29 halftime lead.

The third quarter wasn’t as crisp for the Larks as they made only one field goal, scoring nine points in the frame and allowing the Lopes to cut the deficit to five points going into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter was better offensively as the Larks were able to regain a double digit lead and eventually hold on for the victory.

Kara Horton (Americus, Kan.) led the Larks with 17 points on the night. Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) added 14, Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) chipped in 13 and Reva Smith (Nowata, Okla.) scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers to help secure the win. Damilola Balogun’s (Lagos, Nigeria) 16 points paved the way for the Lopes. Hesston College moves to 1-3 on the season while Lamar falls to 0-2.

“We played like we practiced and we had fun,” Coach Jacobs commented after the win. “Our two goals were accomplished.”

Women’s basketball will return to Yost Center for a home game against Sterling (Kan.) College JV Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Free Lark basketball and activities as part of Alumni/Community Basketball Night

The Hesston College campus community invites alumni and the public to Alumni/Community Basketball Night, Thursday, Nov. 17, at Yost Center on the Hesston College campus. The event will feature Lark women’s and men’s basketball games, activities, entertainment and fun for the whole family. Admission is free.

The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m., when the Lark women take on Washburn University JV. The Washburn Ichabod JV squad is coached by 2006 Hesston High School and 2008 Hesston College alumnus Todd Stutzman. The men’s game will follow at 7:30 p.m. against Northern Oklahoma-Enid at 7:30 p.m.

Activities include Lark tattoos, candy treats and pop-a-shot fun for kids, concession specials for all and gifts and prizes for high school students from Hesston College Admissions. The Lark women and first-year coach Jeff Jacobs will also be signing team posters.


Larks fall to Bethel College in season opener

Hesston College women’s basketball couldn’t overcome cold shooting, falling to the visiting Bethel College Threshers JV 52-49 in the season opener in Hesston.

Both teams started cold from the field but Hesston managed to take a 9-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Threshers outscored the Larks by four in the second quarter to take a slim 24-23 halftime lead. Hesston shot a lowly 15 percent in the first half, but remained in the game with tough defense.

The third quarter saw the lead change hands several times but the Threshers scored the final five points to take a 40-35 at the end of the quarter. Bethel stretch the lead of seven before the Larks railed in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to as little as two points. Freshman guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) had a chance to bring things even at 52 with under 20 seconds left, only to see her three point attempt skip off the back of the rim.

Freshman forward Kara Horton (Americus, Kansas) led the larks with 14 points on the night, showing her athleticism and finishing ability around the basket. Freshman guard Connor Atkinson (Hutchinson, Kan.) added eight points and freshman forward Carissa Slabach (Newton, Kan.) chipped in seven in the losing effort.

Women’s basketball will look for their first win when they travel to Pratt (Kan.) Community College on Thursday to take on the Beavers. Tip off is set for 6 p.m.

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.”