By Sydney Sibelius
The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) women’s basketball team has completed their first undefeated regular conference season in over 25 years. During the 1987-88 season, the team went undefeated in their regular season and no other team has done it since. The Athenas beat California Lutheran in their final game with a score of 56-45 to clinch the win, sending them to Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC)’s postseason tournament. Scripps Junior Mara Falahee played a crucial role in the team’s success this season.
How long have you been playing basketball?
I originally grew up in Michigan until about 6th grade, and I was probably about five years old when I started playing. My dad used to take my sisters and me to the local YMCA and we played in the small community league. I absolutely loved it, and once I got to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade I started playing a little bit of travel ball. Ever since then I have been really involved in it and it has been a big part of my life.
When you were looking at colleges, did you know that you wanted to play basketball?
I always knew that I couldn’t give up playing basketball. You know, you kind of have this vision when you’re young that you want to go DI and then reality sets in that there are other things that are more important and you might not be the best there is skill-wise. I went to a college preparatory high school, and one of my good friends was looking to play volleyball here, so that’s how I got to know the schools. I looked into it, and it was a great fit between academics and being able to play basketball. So I kind of knew after I came out here and did my recruiting trip that this was it, and this was where I wanted to be. I didn’t really look at anything else after the trip.
What is your favorite thing about the sport?
Probably my favorite thing, specifically to the Athenas that has been unique to any team I have been on, is our team dynamic. There are 16 or 17 girls, and normally with a lot of girls comes a lot of drama and unnecessary stuff, and they are hands-down my best friends here. Everyone gets along with everyone, and everyone has your back, and it honestly is the team that makes playing basketball in college. You have so much going on; there are grades to think about, games, the team, clubs that you can get involved in. Just because it takes so much time, specifically basketball since it’s a winter sport and has such a long season, that having such a close knit team makes everything worth it. Definitely the team being unique to the Claremont Colleges is awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Over the course of your three years on the team, has there been one moment that has stood out to you?
My first year, we only had around nine people, so we didn’t do that well. So I was used to a losing schedule. My second year, we got a whole new group of freshmen and I was the only sophomore, and we had a lot of upperclassmen. We had a large dynamic just between first years and leaders, but we ended up doing really well. When we won the conference championship, that was an awesome moment because all of our hard work had paid off. All of our losses we had encountered the previous year had helped us pave our way there and I don’t think any teams were expecting us to come back that strong. What is also really cool, and that I enjoy on a daily basis, is that we have a team that does the scout stuff. Since there are 16 or 17 of us, there is a third team that will simulate the team that we are going to play the next day. We will have five girls that will go over another team’s offense and we have to guard them. That team I just respect so much because they put in so much hard work, they honestly make me better because there is a girl that I have to figure out how to guard. The red team, in general, being able to push us so much in general really excites me. To see them with a bright future is really enjoyable.
Is there anything you are looking forward to in the rest of the season?
We have some games left in postseason where the top four teams in the conference will go and play in a tournament. And if you win the tournament, you go to the national tournament. Obviously the goal is to get past there, and since we are undefeated in conference, that is where we want to be. For a personal goal and for our team, right now we are being really big on consistency. We’ve been having some lapses where we have been playing really well one half and then not so well the second half, but we still end up with a win. Well, we won, but did we really play our best? So I am really excited to see how our last games play out, but I am most excited to put two full halves together, play a great game, and be consistent. And hopefully carry that into the tournament.
Falahee was named CMS Student Athlete of the Week of January 12-18 for her outstanding performance on the basketball team. In two games against Whittier College and LaVerne University, Falahee had double digit rebounds for a combined 22 boards.