BanJo could be rockin’ and rollin’ Saturday

Photo courtesy of Nate Knobel Marietta College’s Amisha Herd handles the ball during a game against Muskingum Wednesday in Ban Johnson Arena.

Here’s what would really be copacetic: A packed-to-the rafters BanJo at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Be there, or be square.

Hey, there’s really no reason in the world why, when the Marietta College women’s basketball team hosts nationally-ranked Ohio Northern University in an Ohio Athletic Conference regular-season finale, that it isn’t SRO. (That’s “standing room only,” folks, in case you didn’t already know.)

Let’s face it, if the Pioneer men were playing then, it would be. No question about it. The line to get in the place would be backed up out to Putnam Street.

But…not so sure that’ll be the case with the women’s showdown.

And, it is a showdown, because whichever team wins, will claim the OAC regular-season championship and the top seed in next week’s tournament.

The Pioneer women’s cage program has never accomplished this feat before, so now here’s a golden opportunity.

“When the year started — I’ve been saying this all year — we knew we had a chance to be special,” said second MC head coach Kole Vivian after the Pioneers routed visiting Muskingum University, 74-51, Wednesday night to become the first team in program history to win 21 games (21-3 overall, 14-3 OAC) in a season.

“It was pretty special (21st win) and pretty cool for us,” Vivian added. “This is just a great group. They work their tails off.”

After the Muskingum game, MC and its fans drank “pretend champagne” to celebrate the program milestone.

So, how many fans were in attendance on Valentine’s Day?

Funny, you should ask.

There were 569.

569? Not bad…but.

C’mon, the MC women made history, and only 569 were there to witness it?

If double that number-plus aren’t rocking and rolling in the BanJo Saturday, I for one will be very disappointed.

As great as a season as VanderWal’s MC men’s team (19-5, 13-4) is having, Vivian’s squad has been just a little bit better.

“Winning our first 12 games (of the season) got us going,” Vivian said.

And, guess what team halted the streak?

Ohio Northern.

And, now, if the MC women can return the favor, well…who knows, maybe, there might be some dancing in the streets of downtown Marietta.

Of course, knocking off ONU is a lot easier said than done. Last month, in Ada, the Polar Bears downed the Pioneers, 72-57.

But Ohio Northern (20-3, 14-3) has been in a tailspin of late. It’s lost two in a row to John Carroll University (7-17, 5-12) and Otterbein University (16-8, 12-5), respectively — and that’s why the Bears and Pios are dead-even atop the OAC standings.

“Saturday’s going to be big,” Vivian said. “I mean, they (Polar Bears) are well-coached. They have the best player (Amy Bullimore) in the league and a great supporting cast around her. They’ve got a lot of stars.”

Vivian paused.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” he continued. “I’m sure they’re going to be ready for us, and we’re going to be ready for them.”

Bullimore had a double-double with 30 points and 10 rebounds in ONU’s loss to Otterbein. The 6-foot-1 senior pivot player is averaging 17.2 points, which leads the OAC, and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Also expected to start for the Polar Bears are Lindsey Black, Courtney Cramer, Jenna Dirksen, and Tori Wyss.

Marietta will probably counter with Brooke “BB” Borich (13.8 ppg), Amisha “Thundering” Herd (12.9 ppg and the OAC leader in assists with 102 and steals with 81), Corrie “CB” Burkhardt, Jenna “Juniper” Andersen, and Shay “Downtown” Lett.

Borich and Herd each is a 1,000-points-plus career scorer.

You can help the MC women by being there Saturday — and screaming until your lungs ache.

Help make ONU’s journey back to Ada a very long, long bus ride.

Believe me, the Pioneer women would appreciate all of your support.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer, and can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com