Westminster Success Due in Part by Star Guard

4 years 9 months 3 days ago January 22, 2012 Jan 22, 2012 Sunday, January 22 2012 Sunday, January 22, 2012 9:17:00 PM CST in Basketball
By: Eric Blumberg

FULTON, MO -- The Westminster women's basketball team is enjoying its best season in program history. A big part of their success comes from a "not so" little secret.

In 2011, Westminster women's basketball won its first conference title, but they lost in the conference tournament and missed out on the NCAA's.

This year they have bigger plans.

When coach Tracey Braden started building the Westminster women's program, her point guard led the way.

"I can't tell you how many coaches that after the game they tell me where in the world did you find number five?" Braden said.

The answer is Tipton, and it came on a phone call.

"Let me tell you about this kid," Braden said, "Don't mark her off until you see her play. She's five foot nothing, dripping wet, hanging upside down, but she can play."

"I grew up in a neighborhood full of boys and we were out there playing all the time so I guess that's how I got started." senior Rachel Backes said.

Backes has started at point ever since she stepped on campus at Westminster.

"When I came out of high school I wasn't looking to play basketball somewhere, but then when coaches started looking at me I was really surprised," Backes said.

"She's not afraid of anything. If you tell her to do something she's going to do it, no matter what the odds are," Braden added.

Odds are you can't trust the program when it comes to her stature. She's actually five foot two.

"Not according to the roster, but yeah. The roster says 5-4," Backes said.

Those numbers aren't as important as the digits she drops in the box score. This season she passed the one-thousand point plateau.

"I don't worry about my points. They'll come if they come," Backes said.

Backes is the first Westminster women's basketball player to win All-American honors. She has a shot at finishing her career as the school's all-time leading scorer.

"So, if that was something that I got along with the other stuff we're going to do this season, then, I'd be happy, but I want those other goals first," Backes said.

Like making the NCAA division three tournament for the first time in school history.

Backes plays ball with a statistic you can't measure.

"It's the heart. It's the make-up. It's what's in here that's the most important thing," Braden said.

"I get told I play bigger than I am. I hope when people see me they underestimate me," Backes said.

Westminster doesn't just win on the court but they're aceing it in the classroom.

The fall academic report listed nine players on the Dean's list and six of the nine made a 4.0, including Rachel Backes.

Backes now has 1,056 career points, trailing Amy Schaeperkoetter, the all-time leading scorere for Westminster with 1,282 points.

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