Seniors hoping for a ‘banner’ season

Published 2:33 am Saturday, January 13, 2007

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
TERRA CEIA — As soon as the Terra Ceia girls basketball team finishes its games, there’s really no need to sweep the gym floor. Kristina Van Staalduinen, Kalissa Van Vuren and Laura Van Essendelft have done a pretty good job of that themselves.
The Knights’ seniors throw their bodies around with reckless abandon, diving for every loose ball that’s within leaping range. In the process, they pick up whatever dirt or dust that may be on the floor, not to mention a few bruises here and there.
If all that hard work and determination lead to the team’s ultimate goal, then the bruises will have been worth it.
Van Essendelft, who stepped up her game after Van Staalduinen was saddled with three quick fouls, wants nothing more than a TIC title to wrap up her basketball career at Terra Ceia.
Though sophomore Jordan Cantrell, the team’s point guard, gets the bulk of the points, that’s just fine with the three seniors. They’re more than happy to stick with their roles — doing the dirty work of getting rebounds, lunging for loose balls and playing stick-to-you-like-glue defense.
The Knights, now 11-5 overall and 5-0 in TIC play, have developed a certain cohesiveness. There is a bond that has brought the players close together, made all the closer by having the same teammates for the second straight year.
The players want to share that championship with their schoolmates, a group of kids who seem to know each other extremely well because of the size — or lack thereof — of the school. But it’s that small, tight-knit community that can help pay off big dividends on the court.
Much like any team, the Knights are at their best when they play together. Van Staalduinen noticed a solid machine at work when Terra Ceia broke open a close game with Northeast on Tuesday, using a 36-5 second half to blow past a TIC rival.
The players feed off one another. In turn, the crowd feeds off the players, and the players off the crowd.
A key part of those crowds is the seniors’ parents.
Van Vuren, daughter of Tony and Brenda Van Vuren, said she gets critiqued on her performance after every game.
Van Essendelft’s parents, Monique and Bernard Van Essendelft, are regulars as well.
The seniors are hoping they can give their parents and fans more to cheer about as the season progresses. Halfway through the TIC schedule, the Knights are right where they want to be — undefeated. That includes two impressive wins over tough opponents in Ridgecroft and Northeast last week.
Van Vuren noted that the victories has helped build the team’s confidence.
The seniors, who helped lead the Terra Ceia volleyball team to an eighth-place finish in the state tournament in the fall, still have spring sports to look forward to before heading off to college. While Van Vuren and Van Essendelft play softball, Van Staalduinen plays golf.
All three are pretty set with their college plans. Van Staalduinen is planning to attend Pitt Community College to study occupational therapy before transferring to East Carolina, though playing a sport somewhere may alter that decision.
Van Vuren wants to attend Waynesburg in Pennsylvania for nursing.
Van Essendelft has plans on going to Campbell University with the hopes of one day becoming a pharmacist.
But that can all wait for now. The seniors want to make their final year of high school special.
As the season winds down, the Terra Ceia seniors will continue to sweep up the floor with their exhaustive efforts.
And maybe they’ll get a sweep of their TIC opponents along the way, which would cap off a banner season.