Lady Nooks bid a bittersweet farewell to Levi, Edwards

By Reba Lean
Sun Star Reporter

The two women who never quit, seniors Lakeshia Levi and Ronisha Edwards, have to say goodbye to their team after a disappointing season.

The final two basketball games played at home were against the number one- and number four-ranked conference teams, Seattle Pacific and Northwest Nazarene. UAF lost them both.
On Thursday the Nooks faced the Falcons, who beat the Alaska team in January 86-46. The Nanooks weren’t about to let that score happen again this week, and for the first 15 minutes of the game, the women battled like gladiators to gain a solid lead. The lead changed five times until the Nanooks fell behind and they watched it slip beyond their grasp. They went into the break nine points behind, 23-32.

In the second half, the Nooks kept up points-wise with the Falcons, but were never were able to catch up on the board. Senior Jessica Harrison reappeared as a high scorer after building confidence with her second three-pointer ever. It was a ‘ticking clock shot’ and she said she thought to herself, “Oh shoot, got to throw it up!” Coach Dave Thompson said after the game that he knew she could do it all along. “It’s been a little bit of a secret,” he said, but “she can hit it.”

Despite a game-high 16 points from Levi and Harrison’s 13, the Alaska team lost, 59-47. Coach Thompson was impressed by the ladies’ performance against the top-ranking Falcons.
“We did really well,” he said. “Everybody’s working hard, and still trying to win these games.”

Saturday was Levi’s and Edwards’ final collegiate game, and it turned out to be a disappointment for everyone. The Northwest Nazarene Crusaders did not stop moving once. On their side of the court, they would throw up a shot, and already be on the way to grab the rebound. Whenever a Nanook made a layup they would hustle back down to their end to respond before the Alaska team could react. As a result, the Nanooks played about halfway behind their opponents throughout the game. The half ended with the Crusaders ahead,19-37.

In the second half, the Nooks looked to be coming alive for the first seven minutes. They caught up within nine points before the Crusaders took off on a 12-0 run, leaving them in the dust. Edwards fouled out with 1:38 left, and Levi was pulled out with about 30 seconds left. The Crusaders won, 81-45.

After the game, the girls tried to put the season in perspective. “I’m happy to become a Nanook,” Levi said.

“It’s been a tough two years for me,” Edwards said. But she found solace in her teammates. “We got each other,” she said, “that’s all you need.”
Coach Thompson is unsure of what his future holds with the athletic department, but is proud of his team. “It’d be hard to imagine getting through a difficult season without [Edwards] and Levi,” he told the ladies in the locker room after the game.

Next year, Harrison plans to return even though she’s already academically a senior. She redshirted as a freshman, and is excited about polishing her three-point shooting skills in the future. Junior Brittany Aldrich also plans to return. The final game was her first in almost three months after receiving a concussion during practice. She said she thinks that, next year, the team will get off to a better start.

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