On January 2nd, Anoka-Ramsey opened Southern Division play by traveling to Minnesota West in Worthington, MN and defeating the Blue Jays 71-55. Down eight at halftime, Anoka-Ramsey intensified their defensive pressure both in the half court and full court and also did a much better job of getting defensive rebounds to help secure the win. Sonja Ellingson scored 21 of her 28 points in the second half. Kelley Olson was inserted into the lineup to help with rebounding and she responded with 6 rebounds in the 2nd half. Amanda Reh, who spent much of the first half on the bench in foul trouble, played the entire 2nd half. She was in charge of handling and distributing the ball and was the catalyst behind the defensive pressure that was key to their win. Jessica Cichy added 21 points of her own to the cause.
On January 5th, Anoka-Ramsey hosted Rochester Community and Technical College in an early season showdown between two of the top teams in the country. In a game that went back and forth with numerous lead changes, Rochester squeaked out a 83-77 win. That was the first loss for the Golden Rams on their home court in over 3 years. Carri Roline scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds for Anoka- Ramsey, while Love Washington added 17 points.
On January 9th, Anoka-Ramsey traveled to Willmar to take on Ridgewater. The Golden Rams came away with a 63-52 road win to raise their season record to 15-2. Amanda Reh, a sophomore point guard from Monticello came up big in this game with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 6 steals and 2 assists. Sonja Ellingson added 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Jessica Cichy scored another 12 points. The Golden Rams jumped on the Warriors right away but could never put them completely away. "We have to do a better job of finishing teams off when we have the chance," said Anoka-Ramsey head coach Dave DeWitt. "We need to be more consistent in finishing."
Things have taken an interesting turn for Anoka-Ramsey though as they only have seven healthy bodies. They lost Georgia Morff, a freshman from St. Francis and the "best athlete on the team" right before the holiday break to a season ending ACL injury. Love Washington, a sophomore from Blaine and a key player in Anoka-Ramsey's National Championship run last season is out after undergoing knee surgery. She will be sidelined for at least 6 games. Sonja Ellingson, a 2008 All-American and the MVP of the National Tournament suffered a stress fracture in her foot and will be lost for a minimum of four weeks.
Anoka-Ramsey took on Riverland College out of Austin, MN on Wednesday, January 16th. The Golden Rams, who are currently ranked 4th in the latest NJCAA National Poll, played without several key players, as they lost a close 53-49 game to the 15th ranked Blue Devils.
On Saturday, January 19th, the Golden Rams dug deep down and played with a lot of heart as they defeated the Spartans of MSCTC-Fergus Falls 51-42. With only seven healthy players, Anoka-Ramsey has a tough week coming up as they travel to Minneapolis on Wednesday and end the week at home against the Blue Jays from MN West.
"Adversity is part of the game and part of life," said DeWitt. "We will not make excuses nor let these injuries be a reason to settle for mediocrity." Drake University showed the entire basketball world last season that through persistence and perseverance good things can happen. Facing a very similar situation last season only to a much greater extent, Drake under the leadership of Head Coach Amy Stevens, chose to remain positive and that approach paid off as they entered their conference tournament with seven healthy bodies and a #8 seed. Drake ended up winning four games in four days as they won the MVC Tournament and earned a birth in the NCAA tournament. Coach Stevens reminded her team how through great adversity comes great triumph. "We will take that same approach," said DeWitt. "I have already challenged the coaches and team that rather than setbacks, this is an opportunity for everyone to step-up. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. I'm looking forward to seeing how we react."