END OF THE LINE: Norse Women Fall In Regional

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Emma Rutter and Coach Todd Ciochetto.

FLINT, Mich.---
The Bay College Norse women's basketball season came to an end on Thursday with a 73-57 loss to Jackson College in the NJCAA Great Lakes “C” District semifinals in Flint. The Norse had the early lead in the game, but a 14-0 Jackson run in the second quarter turned the tide in favor of the Jets.


Bay was able to stay within single digits deep into the fourth quarter, but never could get over the hump, and wrapped up their season with a 22-9 record.


“I thought we had chances,” Norse Coach Todd Ciochetto said. “We had nine straight (defensive) stops in the third quarter, which is unheard of for us, because they're a good basketball team. But we just couldn't quite finish things. The fact that this hurts our girls shows they care, and shows how far we've come. They became a very good basketball team, and I don't think we played poorly. We competed.”


“I never like to lose,” Norse sophomore Emma Rutter said. “I'm really proud of all we were doing this season. I wanted to keep going, obviously. It's definitely sad. That's honestly one of the worst feelings in the world. It's hitting hard right now.”


Bay College led early, 6-2, after a Jada Fruedinger basket, and still had the advantage at 9-6 when Ashlee Burchette sliced through the Jets defense for a lay-up. The last time the Norse had the lead was 15-14 late in the first quarter, but Jackson scored the next 14 points to build a 28-15 lead with five minutes left in the first half.


Freudinger exited the game with three fouls in the second quarter, and Jackson center Zoandria Bamm took advantage. She scored 15 points in the first half, helping the Jets build that double digit lead. The Norse managed to close to within 40-32 at halftime as Burchette scored 18 points (more than half of the team's total).


“We could have been blown out in the first half, but Ashlee willed us back in the game,” Ciochetto said. “She was amazing. She's a first-team All-American, there's no question in my mind. She's the best player in the conference, and she was the best player in the gym. She singlehandedly willed us, with her will, defensively and offensively, to get to the rim. We were in it until about four minutes left in the game, but we just couldn't make enough shots.”


Bay closed to within 58-50 after Burchette and Freudinger scored fourth quarter baskets, and there was still four minutes on the clock. But Dharyuna Pierce and Riley Kubiak hit back-to-back triples to give Jackson a 64-50 lead, and that was pretty much the game.


“We just weren't flowing like we usually do,” Rutter said. “Our shots weren't falling. If I could have got some of my shots to fall early, it would have been a different game. We had some foul trouble. I don't know. We just weren't clicking like we usually do. This has been the best group of girls I have ever played with. I'm super proud of every one of them.”


Burchette led the Norse with 28 points, while Siena Lingle added ten points and eight rebounds. Kennedy Sproule had a team-high nine rebounds to go along with four points.


Jackson College (24-4) was led by Bamm's 24 points and 12 points. Kubiak added ten points and eight rebounds. The Jets will face Lansing Community College in the championship game Saturday morning at 11:00.


As for the Norse, Ciochetto says he will miss his four sophomores: Rutter, Leah Allan, Cam Carver-Bonner, and Amya Harris. He says Carver-Bonner will be back next year to help coach the team, which will include a dozen new recruits and six returners.


“You can't say enough about all four of them,” Ciochetto said. “They've really set the mark of what this program is going to be.”


And Ciochetto says says the recruiting for next season has gone very well.


“We're loaded,” Ciochetto said. “I just got a text from our 18th player, so we're going to have 18 players. Ashlee was a big-time playmaker, and we've got more playmakers coming in. You're going to see Siena (Lingle) grow in that role, you're going to see Kennedy (Sproule) grow in that role. We'll be really athletic. We'll be really strong. Without this group setting the stage, we don't get those kids.”


Bay College finishes its season with a 22-9 record, winning 18 of its last 20 games.

LISTEN: Todd Ciochetto post-game comments
LISTEN: Emma Rutter post-game comments
LISTEN: Jada Freudinger player spotlight interview