The New England College Women’s Basketball team finished their 2019-2020 season with their second straight New England Collegiate Conference Championship title. The Pilgrims went 21-7 on the season, with a 12-2 conference record.
Seniors Haleigh Martin and Hannah Nelson were on the same page with their beginning of the season expectations: winning another conference championship. The ‘Grims ended up beating Eastern Nazarene College 84-81 in their final game, who they previously lost to both times they faced each other in regular season.
“The championship game against ENC was probably one of the most nerve-wracking games I have ever been a part of in my life. Going from up by a point, to down by a point, to up by a couple in the span of what felt like seconds was absolutely crazy. For Asia to make those layups and Haleigh to ice it with free throws was something I will never forget,” reflected Nelson.
The Pilgrims started the year strong, winning seven out of their first ten games. They continued this success throughout the season. When asked about the highs of the season, senior guard Haleigh Martin recalled their mid-season 81-70 win over the United States Coast Guard Academy, stating, “just being able to lean on one another and have that sense of relief knowing that not one person felt like they needed to do it all and that it was a team effort.”
“The returners were a major part of our team. I think that it’s tough because we had seniors, but there were a lot of sophomores and sometimes freshmen playing. So even though we had some maturity on the team we had a lot of youth,” said Head Coach Erica Ledy.
One of these returners who played a major role this year was senior guard Rene Hudson, hitting over 300 three-pointers in her career as a Pilgrim, and leading the team with 562 points this season. Hudson was the lone Pilgrim named to NECC First-Team, with Martin named to the Del Malloy Sportsmanship Team.
Both Hudson and sophomore Asia Jones were named to the NECC All-Championship Team, with Jones being named the NECC Tournament MVP.
The graduating seniors are hopeful that next year’s returners and incoming freshman will “continue to win and keep the success of the program alive, ” said Nelson. “If they trust and respect each other as well as follow Coach Ledy’s direction, I think it is very possible they will find themselves in another championship game.”
Martin also wants the returners to make sure that they “don’t take their athletic career for granted because your 4 years at NEC will fly by and shortly [you] won’t be able to play again.”
When asked about the graduating seniors, junior Kayla Ramsay said, “Each senior has brought more than enough to the table. All [of them] possess qualities of a great person, player and leader. They are selfless, accountable, loyal, resilient…etc. There will be moments that can’t be recreated without them. But the ones we have now I will hold onto forever. They are more than ready to be out in the real world and, selfish to say, I don’t want them to go. They are the foundation and one of the main reasons why the basketball program is in the position that it is today and I thank them for this. You all have helped me live one of my dreams, now go live yours. I can’t wait to see what great things they will achieve and I wish them the best of luck.”
Coach Ledy was also appreciative of this year’s team, saying, “I hope everybody is safe and healthy and I appreciate everything that the team did for NEC and for me; it was very memorable and there’s a great group of seniors graduating and a whole group of returners that I am excited to have back.”
For next season, Ramsay wants the team to focus on “improving on maintaining early leads and playing a full 40 minute game.”
The upcoming 2020-2021 season will give the Pilgrims an opportunity to continue to improve and make history both individually and as a team, as well as defend their back-to-back NECC Championship titles.