ASHLAND — Lindsay Tenyak almost got two rings last weekend.
On Friday, Tenyak and the Ashland University women’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 88-82 overtime loss to Shaw in the NCAA Division II National Championship in San Antonio.
Two days later, the 2009 Wadsworth High graduate became engaged to Brandt Danals, a former Ashland University men’s player who is now the boys varsity head coach at Crestview High.
“I had no idea he was going to do it,” the 21-year-old Tenyak said. “I screamed. I was ecstatic. I was just really, really happy. After coming that close in the game, that made me a lot happier.”
The couple is planning to get married in the fall of 2013, after Tenyak, currently a junior, completes her degree in early childhood education.
Prior to that, the 5-foot-9 guard and former Gazette MVP hopes to help the Eagles get back to the national championship in her senior season.
“We’re hoping to get back to that game again,” she said. “We want to win it.”
Ashland finished 2011-12 with a 33-2 record and won Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
The Eagles then won three NCAA Tournament games at home to advance to the final eight in San Antonio, where they beat Alaska-Anchorage 71-51 in the quarterfinals.
Tenyak, who had struggled with her shot in the previous tournament games, had 17 points and six rebounds in that contest, making 6-of-7 from the field, including five 3-pointers.
“It was a confidence boost: Hey, I can shoot,” she said with a laugh. “They were leaving me open and my teammates were finding me. It was a great feeling to finally hit some shots.”
In the semifinals, Tenyak played 39 minutes and had four points and two rebounds in a 77-62 victory over Bentley, setting up the championship game against Shaw. In that one, Tenyak played 39 minutes and had five points and three assists, but was just 1-for-8 from the field.
“It was one of those nights,” she said. “It just wasn’t my shooting night. It was so heartbreaking. I don’t remember crying so much ever in my life. You want it all and you’re that close.
“Everyone wanted that game, but the team we played was a great team and things didn’t go our way. At first, all of us were really down and upset. Then we realized it was a great accomplishment and everybody was behind us no matter what. The heartbreak eventually went away.”
A marriage proposal went a long way toward alleviating the pain, as did realizing the Eagles will return four starters next season, when they will also get back several key injured players.
Wadsworth graduate Taylor Woods, who had been getting steady minutes until breaking her jaw in the next-to-last game of the regular season, is one of the latter players, while fellow Grizzly Robyn Rotterschmidt is also on the roster.
“We should be really good,” Tenyak said. “We worked really well together this season and everything clicked. It was just absolutely amazing. Getting to the final round, we couldn’t have topped the season off any better.”
Winning the title and then getting another ring two nights later would have been the totally perfect ending, but Tenyak won’t ever complain about how things have gone for her at Ashland.
“It ended up being the perfect choice,” she said. “It’s a town similar to Wadsworth, it’s a great school and the education is amazing.
“The basketball speaks for itself. I have great teammates and coaches and great friends. It was a great all-around choice.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or email@example.com.