How the Stephens and Columbia ladies’s basketball rivalry started burning

How the Stephens and Columbia women's basketball rivalry began burning

First-year ladies’s basketball coach James Arnold was incensed at his Columbia School Cougars.

Stephens School was biting into the Cougars’ lead, and the Stars had all of the momentum. So, Arnold confirmed it. He slammed his playboard into the Southwell Heart’s courtroom and requested them, politely, but firmly, to rebound the basketball higher.

Columbia received by 19, however not earlier than the Stars made Cougars sweat on their very own residence courtroom. The crosstown sport between Stephens and Columbia is turning into the one phrase it wasn’t earlier than: rivalry.

“Pay attention, that basketball workforce is pretty much as good as anyone within the nation,” Arnold stated. “It is a rivalry.”

The 2022-2023 basketball season has been a boon for each Columbia and Stephens. Each have earned double-digit wins and can enter February jockeying for favorable American Midwest Convention match seeding.

They’re each maintaining a tally of one another, particularly after Columbia misplaced to Stephens for the primary time within the historical past of video games between the 2 packages.

“To get to that time, I imply we acquired to be constant at competing,” Stephens School coach Andre Bell stated. “We acquired to be constant in recruiting. We acquired to be constant as we develop as a program. However we can’t again down from no one. Columbia School is a extremely good program, man. However I believe we’ll be a extremely good program too.”

To grasp the success Stephens School is having fun with this season, a look on the program’s basis is critical.

Within the final 9 seasons, the Stars’ ladies’s basketball program has eclipsed the six-win mark simply twice: as soon as in 2017 when the workforce received 9 video games and final yr when Bell closed his first season teaching Stephens School with an eight-win marketing campaign.

From 2014 to 2021, this system has 36 whole wins. Examine that to the final two years at Columbia, the place the Cougars have received 41 video games, and it was a story of packages on the alternative ends of the spectrum.

That is why it is not inaccurate to level to a double-digit win season that Stephens is at the moment placing collectively halfway via the 2022-2023 season and say it is exceptional.

Profitable did not occur a lot within the Stephens School ladies’s basketball program. It does now with Bell on the helm.

Bell is accountable for maybe essentially the most vital win in Stephens School historical past: a 60-52 win over Columbia School on November 19, 2022. It was the Stars’ first-ever win over the Cougars.

It was a logo of how far Bell has taken Stephens. Nonetheless, on January 21, the Cougars left a reminder of how proficient their program is and has been.

The Cougars beat the Stars 73-54 at Columbia School. Columbia crashed the offensive glass to take a first-half lead and used its depth to carry off the 2 Stephens runs within the second half. The Cougars avenged the loss from earlier this season by studying from what Stephens did to trouble them.

Stephens was down Zaraya March within the rematch, who earned 9 rebounds within the first assembly this season, however Arnold nonetheless made it a degree to rebound higher in the course of the sport.

Within the second half, that is when Arnold slammed his play board on the bottom and lit into his workforce. Momentum was on Stephens’ facet. It is how they received 12 video games to that time.

The Cougars wanted to rebound higher so as to win. Stephens hadn’t compelled many aggressive video games with Columbia earlier than.

“They’re effectively coached, they’re gritty, they work actually arduous,” Arnold stated. “I do not wanna see them within the playoffs, I can inform you that.”

The 2 packages discovering success on the similar time suits a theme across the Metropolis of Columbia.

Missouri males’s and girls’s basketball each have NCAA Match aspirations. Father Tolton boys basketball stays a state-ranked energy. Battle, Rock Bridge and Hickman women basketball have been all state-ranked in the identical ballot for the primary time ever, whereas the boys groups all have an inflow of college-level expertise.

A rising rivalry between Stephens and Columbia would add one other factor to an already basketball-centric metropolis. It may not be on the stage of depth as different crosstown rivalries, however mutual respect is definitely there.

“I do not assume we’re that but, however we’re only a good workforce attempting to get higher,” Bell stated. “Columbia School’s a well-oiled program.”

It is an added issue that each packages have crowds which are shopping for right into a rivalry between the 2, additionally.

“Tonight was nice vitality, it was nice vitality after we performed over at Stephens,” Arnold stated. “It might be good if it was a give-me, however actually iron sharpens iron and we discovered so much from our loss over there.”

That loss was an instance for Columbia. Stephens School has constructed itself right into a fast-paced and aggressive workforce in simply two years below Bell.

Bell is aware of this, too. His work is paying off, and he is aware of the sky is the restrict for the Stars. The identical may very well be stated for the Columbia-Stephens rivalry, too.

“Stephen’s School ain’t going nowhere,” Bell stated. “We’re right here to remain.”