WICHITA, Kan. – Stepping on the floor that will hold the Lady Rattlers’ fate is what greeted St. Mary’s to Wichita, Kan.
St. Mary’s completed its journey Thursday to the Heartland Conference Tournament, hosted by No. 1 seed Newman University, and didn’t skip a beat in getting in to game mode, almost immediately hitting the court to practice upon arrival.
The intensity of the tournament was felt through blocked-off windows sealing the court from sight, stating closed practices were taking place. As all four teams competing in the tournament practiced Thursday, mum was the word on what exactly the teams were practicing. Under a strict time limit of 90 minutes on the court, the Rattlers seemed to have had a successful warm-up for their semifinal game Friday after the juices got flowing.
But St. Mary’s won’t go into Friday’s game against the No. 1 seed Newman University with only the confidence of getting in an extra practice; the Rattlers were represented across the board in conference honors just hours after lacing down from the court, sinking in the reality of what is to come and why they made their journey.
In the conference’s first-ever Athletic Banquet hosted by Newman University, All-Conference selections were announced, with numerous deserving Lady Rattlers taking home honors.
“It’s a confidence booster big time for tomorrow actually,” said Morgan Pullins, who received two honors at the banquet.
Pullins (Fr., Franklin, Mich.) earned an All-Conference Second Team selection as well as the desired Freshman of the Year award. But Pullins wasn’t the only Rattler to leave with a boost.
Senior DeAnna Patterson (Converse, Texas), who proudly wore a Rattler uniform for four years, achieved the All-Conference Honorable Mention award.
The sensation of Jackie Edwards (So., San Antonio), who debuted as a Rattler with 19 points the first game of the season, was also recognized by the conference, earning All-Conference First Team and the coveted Newcomer of the Year award.
As one of the few teams who had a member in nearly every category of conference honors, the Rattlers walked out with more than added pride – but also with the reality of their task Friday, when they tipoff at 7:30 p.m. against Newman.
“Since the actual speeches of the coaches, it hit me,” says Pullins of the moment when each coach was asked to speak, and St. Mary’s head coach Jason Martens was recognized for his work in getting the conference nationally noticed. “We’re going to lay it all out on the line and see how far we can get and come home with a win.”
The Lady Rattlers reconvene for a team breakfast before shooting practice at 12 p.m. at Newman University on Friday. St. Mary’s will then rest and get hyped for their semifinal game against the Jets that will determine whether their time in Wichita, Kan., was a short stay or an extended one. For if the Rattlers win, they advance to Saturday’s championship game against either the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith or the University of Texas-Permian Basin.