By Charlie Miller, Staff Writer
The Bullets basketball program has been one of the strengths of Gettysburg Athletics in the last few years. The women’s team is the defending Centennial Conference champion, and last year, the men rolled to their first playoff berth since 2016. Both teams look to continue this success into the 2022-23 season. Despite their shared success, both have very different complexions heading into their seasons, as the women’s team will return a few key pieces, while the men will look to develop talented youth.
The 2021-22 was a season of milestones for the men’s team. Fueled by their patented “pound the rock” mentality, Gettysburg made their first postseason appearance since 2016. In his fifth season at the helm of the Bullets, head coach BJ Dunne brought his team to the Centennial Conference playoffs with a 15-10 overall mark and an 11-7 record in conference play.
The Bullets were one of the youngest teams in the conference last season, with only four players with substantial experience on the roster. The Bullets played a tough schedule, including No. 1 Randolph-Macon. They lost in the semifinal round to No. 18 Swarthmore 80-64, despite being competitive for most of the game.
They look to build on their surprising season and keep developing the young talent this season, including first-year standout Carl Schaller. Schaller was named the Centennial Conference’s top rookie last season, providing production behind the arc, and shooting 39.7 percent. Schaller attributed his success to the “coaching staff and..teammates encouraging [him] every day and..showing [him] that they believed in [him] through their words and actions.” He also noted that the team has been working very hard over the summer and through the preseason to do what they need to do to come back and take the conference title.
The Bullets lost All-CC first team forward Avery Close ’22 to graduation, a player who led the team with an average of 12.9 points per game. Close will be a tough loss, but the young talent that flourished last season aims to fill that role accordingly. The Bullets lost no other starters, and have just one senior on the roster this season, guard Elijah Williams ’23, who averaged 7.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season.
The Bullets were ranked third in the Centennial Conference preseason poll, behind perennial powerhouses Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore. Both the Blue Jays and Garnet, respectively, return veterans that heavily contributed to each team’s berth in the Centennial Conference championship. The Bullets, now with a year of experience under their belt, will look to challenge the top dogs in the conference.
Gettysburg’s non-conference slate opens their season as Wilkes comes to town on Nov. 11. The Bullets will host the Gettysburg Tip-Off Tournament, looking to start their season strong and continue to “pound the rock.” This motto, as Dunne puts it, is “all about playing the infinite game.. understanding how important and impactful daily improvement and progress is in a world of instant gratification.” Dunne wants his team to “relentlessly pursue getting 1% better every day towards accomplishing our ultimate goal.”
Gettysburg women’s basketball had a signature season in 2021-22, winning the Centennial Conference for the third time in their history, with head coach Nate Davis delivering another stellar campaign. The Bullets will look to continue their success into this season, and the hype is real for this team. They took the top spot in the Centennial Conference preseason poll over last year’s runners-up Johns Hopkins.
The Bullets vs. the Blue Jays has been a thrilling series over the last few seasons, culminating in last year’s landmark 43-40 win at Bream Gym for the Bullets, securing the conference title and improving Gettysburg to 5-0 against Hopkins in the postseason. The two teams are knotted in the all-time series at 41 wins a piece. This year, Hopkins will be sure to exact revenge on their rivals from the north, while the Bullets will look to reclaim their title and perhaps go further in the NCAA tournament.
Gettysburg lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Baldwin-Wallace, ending the careers of a few legendary Bullets. Last year’s senior class was the most successful in history, with an incredulous 55-5 record in conference play. They will look to replace these stellar seniors, including All-Centennial Conference selections Carly Rice ’22 (first team) and Mackenzie Tinner ’22 (second team). Coach Davis secured CC Coach of the Year for the second time in his seven-year tenure. The Bullets do have a few options to help fill the roles of Tinner, Rice, and the other seniors, as a few young players were a huge part of their title run last year.
Davis is confident that “every year is a new year regardless of how many returners you have.” He notes that it has been “exciting to see returning players step into new roles.” Mackenzie Szlosek ’25 was a first-year standout last season, earning an All-CC Honorable Mention and ranking in the top 20 in all the major statistical categories, including fifth in assists. She was also the iron woman for the Bullets, starting every game last season. Szlosek said that she looks to step up as “a capable leader to guide us to our goals, including our goal of another Centennial Conference championship.”
Another budding star for the Bullets is Delaney Donohoe ’25. The 6’1” Forward averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the CC playoffs, and she looks to continue her postseason success into this regular season. The Bullets will have many new faces on the court but will look to make a run at the CC title and beyond.
Gettysburg opens the season with an exhibition at Division I squad UMBC on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Their conference slate will open with a rematch against Johns Hopkins on Nov. 22, which is sure to be a fascinating contest.