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Tabitha Gerardot looks to be spark plug as Crusaders start Horizon play

Valparaiso's TabithGerardot takes shot with pressure from Purdue Calumet's Alex Starr first half Wednesday night Valparaiso University. | Jeffrey D.

Valparaiso's Tabitha Gerardot takes a shot with pressure from Purdue Calumet's Alex Starr in the first half Wednesday night at Valparaiso University. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 30, 2013 6:10AM



It’s been a rough road literally for the Valparaiso women’s basketball team.

After starting the season with two home wins, the Crusaders have lost eight of its last nine games — including seven of its eight road games.

But Valparaiso plays the next four games at home and that’s where junior forward Tabitha Gerardot hopes to see her team turn things around.

Gerardot, a preseason All-Horizon League second-team selection averaging 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, would like to see that start on Saturday when the Crusaders host Ball State.

She’s hoping a win over the Cardinals can lead to some momentum building when VU hosts Youngstown State (Sat., Jan. 12) and Loyola (Wed., Jan. 16) to open the Horizon League season.

“I certainly hope so,” said Gerardot, who scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the team’s win over Ball State in Muncie last December. “But they are a better team than they were last year; they have good balanced scoring and I think it will be a competitive match-up.”

Ball State, which is only 4-9 coming into Saturday’s contest, recently knocked off one of the upper echelon Horizon League teams, Detroit, in overtime, 73-64.

“Making a big splash in the conference is big to us and that’s the nice thing about conference play,” the former Fort Wayne Canterbury standout said. “We get a chance to start over.”

Valparaiso would like to also show all those people who picked the Crusaders dead-last in the conference that they were flat-out wrong.

“I think if we can keep that mentality up and we can pump ourselves up, we can turn this thing around,” Gerardot said. “We need to get a jump start and we’re excited to play some different teams. And (Saturday’s game) is a good starting point. But I know Ball State beat Detroit in overtime so it’s going to be on our minds a little bit.”

Gerardot was a four-year lettermen at Fort Wayne Canterbury, led her team to three state championship games and was named the IHSAA state finals All-Tournament team MVP in ’08 and ’10. Losing is not in her blood so playing on a 7-24 team her freshmen season and a 10-21 team her sophomore campaign has been a little tough to swallow.

But she has faith in the program and its future.

“I came to Valpo for a number of reasons,” she said. “One of those was academics and I loved the proximity to home. But I also thought it’d be a good opportunity to try to build a program. I didn’t know if I’d be a starter my freshmen year but I thought it was important that I played. I didn’t want to go somewhere, work hard in practice and sit on the bench because I’m so used to playing.

“It’s been rough sometimes because most people who play college basketball aren’t used to losing in high school. But I’m hoping that we can be resilient and turn things around. I think the difficulty of our schedule (games against Michigan, Duke and Louisville) should help us get ready for conference so there’s a lot of excitement for the start of conference.”

Being at home should also help bring a familiar feel for the team and help them build the confidence they need to go on a roll. That’s the hope for Gerardot and her teammates, anyway.



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