A surprisingly large crowd, stunning performances by Danielle McCray, a long-time coach’s departure and unprecedented territory for Haskell Indian Nations University.
A 2009 retrospective of city women’s college sports is pretty much dominated by McCray, who blossomed as a Kansas University basketball player during her junior year and picked up where she left off at the beginning of her senior season.
On my list of the Top 10 city women’s college sports stories of ’09, McCray appears four times. Check them out.
1. MAC ATTACK I — McCray posts three straight 30 points-plus performances to propel KU into the championship game of the WNIT against South Florida.
2. MAC ATTACK II — McCray scores a career-high 35 points — including 7-of-10 from three-point range — as Kansas stuns No. 5-ranked Baylor, 69-45, in Allen Fieldhouse. The Bears, playing their first game without injured All-Big 12 center Danielle Wilson, trail 42-17 at halftime.
3. PACK THE HOUSE — An announced crowd of 16,113 — largest to watch a Big 12 women’s basketball game in a conference arena — squeezes into Allen Fieldhouse to watch South Florida edge KU, 75-71, in the WNIT title game.
4. BYE BYE BUNGE — Two weeks before the end of the season, Tracy Bunge announces her retirement after 13 years as the Jayhawks’ softball coach. Plagued by tepid hitting and spotty pitching, KU finishes with a disappointing 21-31 record in the final year of Bunge’s three-year contract.
5. HINU HEIGHTS — Coach Phil Homeratha’s women’s basketball team becomes the first Haskell Indian Nations University sports team to be ranked in a weekly NAIA poll. Off to a 12-3 start and led by seniors Justina George and Maria Parker, the Indians are No. 18 in the NAIA Division II poll prior to breaking for the holidays.
6. MAC ATTACK III — McCray scores a career-high 37 points even though she doesn’t make a single trip to the free-throw line in an 89-69 road victory over Houston University. McCray nails 17-of-22 shots from the floor — 14 from two-point range and three from behind the arc.
7. SMITH STEPS IN — Megan Smith, a former North Carolina standout who had been an aide at Louisiana State for the previous three years, is named Kansas University’s softball coach, replacing Bunge.
8. MAC ATTACK IV — McCray earns a berth on the USA World University Games team and brings home a gold medal after the U.S. spills Russia, 83-64, in the championship game in Belgrade, Serbia. McCray has six points and three assists in the title contest.
9. BUY BONDS — Lauren Bonds, a senior from Hutchinson, becomes the first KU female runner to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country championships in 15 years and finishes 61st out of 255 runners at the nationals. Bonds also finished third in the 1,500 at the Big 12 Outdoor.
10. MEGA MERTZ — Erin Mertz, a sophomore from Omaha, Neb., earns All-American status with a seventh-place finish on the one-meter board at the NCAA swim championships. Mertz becomes the first KU swim All-American in 11 years.