102 times over, Bluffton senior Melissa James kept beating expectationsBy Tim Stried
March 10, 2003
|Bluffton College senior Melissa James saw action in all 102 games that the Beavers
played over the past four years, tying the BC record for career games played.
In every college basketball game there's something new, something different and something amazing. And if on top of that you are looking for something that's always the same-it would be the name "Melissa James" listed in the post-game box score.
Since the start of the 1999-00 season, the Bluffton College women's basketball team has played 102 games, and James was a key figure in every one of them. In the process, she tied the Bluffton all-time games played record, which was initially set by Jenny (Etzler '95) Fledderjohnn, who played for BC from 1992-95.
A native of LaRue, Ohio and a graduate of Elgin High School, James didn't have career records on her mind when she arrived at Bluffton as a freshman in 1999.
"My goal as a freshman was just to play junior varsity," said James, who ended her career by being named honorable mention All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference on March 6. "I never expected to be on the varsity right away."
But the habit of beating expectations was just beginning for James.
"The varsity team opened the season in a tournament at Baldwin-Wallace, and I wasn't even supposed to go," said James. "I guess I played well in our last scrimmage, so Coach Durand told me at the last minute I'd be going. I didn't expect to get in the game, but coach put me in."
And the coach kept putting her in for 101 games after that, including 61 occasions in the starting lineup.
But although her collegiate career began a bit unexpectedly, James quickly proved that she belonged. Her freshman season she started nine games and ended the season averaging 3.9 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. By the end of her sophomore season, James had played in 52 games and had helped lead Bluffton to the semi-finals of the HCAC tournament both years.
As a junior and senior, James took over as one of Bluffton's main offensive weapons. She averaged 9.2 points per game as a junior and 11.4 as a senior, which she increased to 13.3 in HCAC games. James finished her career at Bluffton ranked sixth on the all-time rebounding list (495 rebounds), eighth on the free throw percentage list (.726), 12th on the scoring list (718 points), 13th on the steals list (105 steals), 16th on the assists list (145 assists) and 19th on the free throws made list (127 FT's).
But James says her durability on the court is what she'll remember most.
"Playing in 102 games-that's my highest accomplishment," she said, noting that victories over Lake Erie and Manchester as a senior rank among her most memorable games.
And when it comes to sorting out those memorable games, James would have welcomed the chance to have more than 102 choices.
"I would have played in as many games as possible."