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Womens Basketball vs. La Salle Credit: Thomas Munson , Thomas Munson

The fall season was certainly a disappointing one for Penn Athletics, but the women’s basketball team’s Ivy League championship banner-raising ceremony on Wednesday night reminded Quakers fans of better times while stirring optimism for the future of the Red and Blue.

The ceremony took place right before the Red and Blue’s matchup with Big 5 rival La Salle, a contest they would eventually win.

“You’re celebrating the past and hopefully moving right into the future with a history,” coach Mike McLaughlin said prior to Wednesday’s ceremony. “It should be pretty special for them.”

“It was especially great to see all the seniors,” senior guard Kathleen Roche added. “It was great to see where we’ve come.”

However, McLaughlin acknowledged that the Quakers are by no mean guaranteed to repeat.

“This isn’t the same team from last year,” he said.

It sure isn’t.

The Quakers’ backcourt will feel the absence of Alyssa Baron and Meghan McCullough, who comprised Penn’s top two in minutes played, assists and steals last year before graduating in May. Baron was also the leading scorer for the Red and Blue.

In spite of the departures of Baron and McCullough, Penn still has a good shot of raising another banner in a year’s time.

This is thanks in large part to sophomore center Sydney Stipanovich, who anchored the Ancient Eight’s best defense as a freshman The four senior captains — Kathleen Roche, Kara Bonenberger, Renee Busch and Katy Allen — will also play large roles as they look to double up on Ivy championships before getting their diplomas this spring.

Ultimately, the Quakers took the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor from last year, but, as evidenced by their strong play against La Salle, the Red and Blue were not content to rest on their laurels.

“They were ready to play,” McLaughlin said. “They wanted the culmination of this day to end in something really special.”

But with conference play still a couple months away, the focus, at least for one more night, was on last year’s successful title quest and not the upcoming title defense.

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