Led by Millard West grad Philly Lammers, top-ranked Concordia ready for early-season tests

Concordia's Philly Lammers was an NAIA Division II first-team All-American as a junior.

Losing doesn’t sit well with Concordia senior Philly Lammers — even a double-overtime exhibition at Division I Creighton.

“A losing feeling should always leave a bad taste in your mouth,” said the Millard West graduate, who was an NAIA Division II first-team All-American as a junior. “We always look for a challenge and living up to that challenge.”

The Bulldogs are a driven bunch this fall, even after winning their first national championship in March.

“They always have something to prove. That’s their nature,” Concordia coach Drew Olson said.

They gave Creighton all it wanted Tuesday in an 85-83 loss. The next day, the Bulldogs were selected No. 1 in the NAIA preseason poll. This weekend, they’ll play a pair of ranked opponents at the College of the Ozarks tournament. Concordia faces No. 12 Sterling on Friday and either No. 2 Southeastern or No. 3 College of the Ozarks on Saturday.

Concordia, which is 105-8 the past three years, returns all of its key players except forward Quinn Wragge, who graduated as the No. 3 scorer in program history. And on Tuesday, guard Taylor Cockerill, the team’s leading scorer a year ago, went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.

“We’ve got good depth,” Olson said. “(The injury) changes our team a little bit in terms of our athleticism and how many players can create their own shots, but I think we can tweak things.”

Added Lammers: “What gives us our depth is that we trust each other so much. ... We have a lot of talented people with our skill, but it’s that trust and love for each other that lets us use the depth like we do.”

Concordia’s top players played well at Creighton. Lammers finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter while point guard Grace Barry had 26 points, eight assists, three steals and one turnover in 41 minutes.

“She was phenomenal tonight. She showed it all tonight,” Lammers said of Barry, who was the MVP at nationals in March. “She put in an enormous amount of work this summer.”