Steele Scores Career High 16 In Houghton Senior Night Game
HOUGHTON, NY— It had been 374 days since their last game, but the Houghton Highlanders women's basketball team returned to the hardwood on Tuesday night with renewed focus, a high-powered offense, and a stingy defense.
In his coaching debut, the Highlanders gave head coach Phil Pellegrino his first collegiate victory, defeating the visiting Elmira Soaring Eagles, 81-39.
Five Houghton players reached double-digits in the scoring column, led by Emie Taylor and Heuvelton's Alex Steele. Taylor picked up a double-double, scoring 20 points and adding 10 rebounds, while going 10-14 from the floor.
Steele is an accelerated junior at Houghton College who is looking to attend the Indiana Wesleyan BSN accelerated program in January. Steele, who was honored with Jan Reetz Award as a Heuvelton senior in 2018, scored a career-high 16 points, draining 4-of-9 shots from beyond the arc while also contributing six rebounds and three assists.
The daughter of Dave and Colleen Steele is a dual sport athlete at Houghton playing basketball and soccer in the spring semester and will complete her final basketball season as a Highlander. The Houghton soccer season, which was was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic in the fall, will begin on March 14 with a game against St. John Fisher. In the fall season of 2019 as forward-midfielder started all 17 games and was second on the team in minutes played with 1345.
In a bit of an ironic twist, the season basketball opener will be the only home game the Highlanders will play in the Nielsen Center this season. With that being the case, the team celebrated "Senior Night" in front of an empty arena, highlighted by testimonials of teammates and voice recordings from the parents of the three Houghton seniors, Steele, and Caitlyn and Hannah Cybart.
The Highlanders have only three games on their schedule this spring, all of which will take place within the next week. Houghton will travel to Alfred University on Thursday to challenge the cross-county rival Saxons at 7:30 p.m. and travel to Elmira next Tuesday for a rematch with the Soaring Eagles at 6 p.m.
Houghton shot at least 50% from the floor in all four quarters, finishing 32-of-61 (52.5%), overall, 9-of-25 (36%) from three-point range, and a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line. They limited the Soaring Eagles to 31%/0%/54% in the same three categories.
The Highlanders also accomplished a rare feat, dishing out twice as many assists (22) as they had turnovers (11) in the game.
Joining Taylor and Steele in the double-digit scoring column, Caitlyn and Hannah Cybart scored 14 and 10 points apiece, respectively, and in her first game as a Highlander, freshman Hannah Roeske came off the bench to chip in 14 points.
Alexis Klohr added six assists and five steals for the Highlanders.
The Soaring Eagles were led by Taylor Albrecht, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds.
"I could not be more proud of this group. This has been an incredibly frustrating year, but they never backed down. We put together a full 40 minutes tonight and received contributions from everyone. It was a complete TEAM effort. Watching them play to their full potential and soar with confidence was special to see," said Coach Pellegrino
"At the end of the day, we all need positivity out of this year, and I couldn't be more thrilled to watch all of the teams hard work pay off. They deserved a night like tonight."
NOTE: Sportswriter Dave Shea contributed to this story.