Season In Review: 2022-23 Athenas Basketball
Written by Michael Haas, CMC '79
Athenas return to winning ways
CMS achieves 9th consecutive SCIAC tournament bid
After a season of setbacks stemming from COVID and injuries, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Athenas basketball team was ready to turn the tide in 2022-23. And they delivered indeed. Coming out of the gate with 7 non-conference wins, CMS collected a strong 12-4 record in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference bringing home a second-place finish and a berth in the post-season tournament.
This represented the 35th winning season in the past 40 years for the Athenas and the 31st top two finish in the final conference standings. The team's 16-8 record also extended the CMS hold on being the winningest SCIAC team over the 45 years that Athenas basketball has been part of the conference.
After a slow start, the team settled to win three of its final four non-conference games. This included success once again at the annual David Wells Classic that CMS hosts. This premier Division III tournament brings to Claremont the combination of strong academic institutions coupled with the finest representatives of small college basketball for an exemplary weekend of roundball and all played at Roberts Pavilion, the finest Division III arena in the nation today.
CMS battled two out of state opponents in Augsburg (MN) and Cabrini (PA) over the weekend and came away with a satisfying split as the Athenas got ready for early season SCIAC action.
CMS had its first three conference games within a 7-day period before first semester final exams. This rapid fire start to the conference schedule was met with high energy and success as the Athenas swept the three contests with wins over Pomona-Pitzer and Chapman on the road and Occidental at home.
This first half of the season set the tone for the 2022-23 season. A season where the team was led by one grad student recovering her COVID-lost season, one senior, two juniors, five sophomores and two first year players.
Jacey Carter (Sr., CMC, Phoenix, AZ) continued as the starting off guard and once again led the team in 3-point shooting with 55 while shooting 44% on her long-range attempts.
Ariana Dalia (Gr., CGU, Brick, NJ) came to CMS after a 3-year career at Bates College in Maine. She earned a starting position at the post early in the season and blossomed from there to lead the team in scoring and rebounding.
Mary Markaryan (Jr., CMC, Glendale) returned for her second season for the Athenas as a forward and started about half the games. She was the team's second leading rebounder. Sadie Heckman (Jr., CMC, San Diego) also continued her growth for CMS and coming off the bench provided consistent play in keeping the offense running and taking care of business for CMS defense.
Kayla Ishibashi (So., CMC, Cypress) returned as a starter and defensive specialist until a late season injury ended her year. Ava Grey (So., CMC, San Francisco) improved from her first year and was key both as the starting point guard leading the CMS offense. Gwen Gilmore (So., CMC, Austin, TX) slated as the starting center sustained a season-ending injury about halfway into the campaign.
Ruva Kiara (So., CMC, Fairfax, VA) was back for her second season and earned a starting position as a small forward and showed her strength inside both with her scoring and rebounding abilities. Grace Florendo (So., CMC, Fremont) came off the bench as a wing player having matured using her previous year's experience to be an even stronger contributor to the CMS 2022-23 success story.
Renee Chong (Fr., CMC, San Diego) and Katie Resendiz (Fr., CMC, Andover, MA) were the two newcomers to the CMS program and both were actively involved in the 2022-23 action. Chong at the guard spot and Resendiz at the forward position contributed both offensively and defensively throughout the season.
When winter break ended and the new year began, good fortunes continued for CMS. There were SCIAC wins over Whittier, Cal Lutheran, Caltech in the first two weeks followed up with second round victories over Pomona-Pitzer, Cal Lutheran, and Caltech.
The conference season wrapped up as it started with two road wins over Whittier and Occidental and a home win over Chapman, giving the Athenas a tie for second place in the conference and the third seed in the SCIAC post season tournament.
This was the ninth straight season and twelfth year overall that CMS qualified for the tournament. And it was the ninth time, the semi-final game would be against Redlands. Unfortunately, CMS came out on the short end of a back-and-forth contest on the road and fell in the opening round by four points 79-75.
Shortly thereafter, the team convened for its end of season team get together and handed out its annual team awards. Ariana Dalia was honored with the Lockdown Award as the best defensive player for 2023. The Wisdom and War (Athena) Award went to senior Jacey Carter for her four-year dedication as the best of teammates being a leader to all and a mentor to the new members of the team.
The Sixth Person Award which is given to a non-player who supports the team in a positive way above and beyond. The honor this year goes to Sid Smith IV, who participated as a practice player this season.
One final post-season highlight came a month after the season ended as the Athenas welcomed a new member to the CMS family with the birth of Coach Murchison's first child – a daughter named Lina Noelle.
The entire Athenas basketball family, from head coach Chanel Murchison to the returning players and the incoming recruiting class, are looking forward to an exciting 2023-24 campaign.
As always, we thank you for your support of CMS Athenas basketball. Please watch for new developments on the Athenas Basketball webpage. In addition, the website has archives of great Athenas basketball memories and all CMS games are available for streaming during the season along with live stats.