COOS BAY — When three of the eight players on the Southwestern Oregon Community College women’s basketball team chose not to return for spring term with no certainty there would be a season, coach Jazmin Bembry asked the remaining five what they wanted to do.
Their answer: Play the season, even though it meant no subs for any of the grueling 40-minute contests.
The Lakers were nearly rewarded with their first victory Wednesday night, before visiting Umpqua used a late flurry of 3-pointers by Fallon Hanson to rally for a 58-52 win at Prosper Hall.
After the game, Bembry talked about how proud she was of her squad.
“They are playing hard,” Bembry said. “I can’t be upset about their effort at all.”
Unfortunately, effort wasn’t enough for the Lakers to hold on to a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers were in front 49-39 with under eight minutes to go. But all they managed the rest of the way was one basket — a three-point play by Natalie Osborne.
At the same time, Hanson got red hot at the right time for the Riverhawks.
The former Junction City star had four 3-pointers in the final eight minutes. The third of those tied the game and the fourth was a dagger — stretching a two-point Umpqua lead to five in the final minute.
Hanson finished with a game-high 25 points, 15 coming in the fourth quarter. She also had two 3-pointers in the first for Umpqua.
Hanson’s hot hand late wasn’t the only problem for the Lakers, Bembry said.
“We got complacent,” she said. “We’ve got to stop turning the ball over late. We stopped rebounding. We stopped taking good shots.
“We’ve got to execute.”
But for just the third game of the season, the Lakers did a lot of great things, including playing the entire game without subs.
“They were getting hammered a lot,” Bembry said. “It was a physical game.”
Rakell Williams had 15 points, all in the first half, to lead SWOCC. Evy Ethington had 14, Natalie Osborne 10 and Marshfield graduate Karina Skurk nine — on a trio of 3-pointers. Mackenzie Diamond, the Lakers’ fifth player, had four points.
Bembry is excited about the potential of her team, which gets another shot at Umpqua on Saturday in Roseburg.
“This is an extremely determined group,” she said. “They come into practice every day and want to get better.
“It speaks to their character.”
Bembry is in her first year as coach, returning to SWOCC after her own career as a Laker. She played for the Lakers during the 2012-13 season, sat out the next season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and came back to play in the 2014-15 season.
“We went to the NWAC tournament both years I played,” she said. “I am going to try to get back there (as coach).”