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By Douglas Sciorra

LCAA’S FINEST: Hornell’s Harkenrider, Dansville’s Rittenhouse will lead AU women starting tonight

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By Chris Metcalf


ALFRED – It wasn’t long ago when the Alfred women’s basketball program was circled as an easy win on most opposing team’s calendars.

Not anymore.

There are two new sheriffs in town.

Enter Hornell’s Leah Harkenrider and Dansville’s Grace Rittenhouse, two former standout LCAA players who have pumped a lot of life into the Lady Saxons’ program.

From 2011-12 to 2019-20 the Alfred women’s basketball program struggled to a 42-160 overall record, or a season average of five wins and 18 losses.

But since Harkenrider and Rittenhouse have been members of the AU squad, those win totals have risen dramatically including last year’s 15-win season.

Last season, the Saxons finished with a 15-10 overall record, winning each of their final five games of the regular season by double-digits to return to the Empire 8 Tournament. The key victories for Alfred University included conference matchups against Elmira, Houghton, and Russell Sage.  

Both senior guards on the roster, Alfred hosts their season opener tonight against Oswego.

Last year, Harkenrider scored a team-high 340 points during the 2022-23 season, averaging 10.5 points per game. Additionally, she led the Empire 8 conference with 58 field goals from 3-point range and was honored as a member of the All-Empire 8 Second Team. In a win over Utica University, Harkenrider set the program record with eight successful shots from 3-point territory. She also averaged 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.

“Leah may be the most improved player each of the past four offseasons,” AU head coach Mike Moskowitz said. “That is true based on her physical skills, leadership, and her mental toughness. It’s been great to see her improve once again this summer. It speaks to the work she has put in for the team.”

Rittenhouse also stuffed the stat sheet a year ago as she averaged 8.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.

In 2022-23, Rittenhouse set career-high marks in almost every statistical category, including field goals made (85), rebounds (115), points (223) and steals (35). During the Hoops for Hounds Classic last season, Rittenhouse scored a career-high 23 points as part of a win over Baruch College.
“Grace is the player with the most personal growth since joining us,” Moskowitz said. “The confidence that she is playing with has been improving over time, but she has grown as a person as well. She constantly makes the right plays on both ends of the floor. We’re excited for her to take the next step of her career.”

Tip-off for tonight’s game against Oswego is 6:30 p.m. at the Terry S. Galanis Family Arena.

“We feel like we have gotten better each year at preparing our team to compete at a high level,” coach Moskowitz said. “We are prepared to endure the long season and are focused on getting one percent better each day.”

Q&A with Grace Rittenhouse and Leah Harkenrider

Grace Rittenhouse

How excited are you for your senior season?

“I am very excited for my senior basketball season. I am excited to be able to compete and play at the collegiate level with my best friends by my side, pushing each other to be better each and every day.”

What are your expectations for this season?

“I have high expectations for us as a team and myself individually. I want us to go out and compete at a high level each and every game. I also want to make the most of it and have fun. Making the most of each day is especially important to me because someday this will all just be a memory and I want to look back and have no regrets.”

You and Leah competed against each other in high school, how much fun is it now to be playing on the same team in college?
“Being on the same team and being able to play with Leah has been one of my favorite parts of my college experience. We both love the game and are able to push each other to be the best players and people we can be each and every day in practice and in life. The memories we have made the past three years playing on the same team are something I will cherish forever. I would much rather have her on my team than playing against her. I am very appreciative Alfred University gave us both the chance to continue playing the sport we love so close to both of our hometowns.”

Leah Harkenrider

How excited are you for your senior season?
“I’m super excited for this season. Obviously, it means a lot to me now that it’s my senior year and I’m excited to make the most of it. Time flies and it’s something that you never want to take for granted. I’ll be sure to cherish every moment with my team.”

What are your expectations for this season?

Dan “Half of our team this year are newcomers, but with that comes a lot of new talent. I’m excited to see the roles they fill and how as a team we can exceed through the season. It’s inevitable that there will be bumps in the road, but as long as we try to stay consistent and bring grit to the table every day we’ll be a tough team to play. “

You and Grace competed against each other in high school, how much fun is it now to be playing on the same team in college?

“Grace and I are the last two players that have been at Alfred the longest now. Being able to grow as players together has been a blessing and to be able to now give it our all this senior season will be fun to watch. It is cool to think that the person you played against in high school is now a key part of the team you’re on today. I’m super excited to see where our senior year will take us and all of the accomplishments that will be achieved this year as a team.”

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