Johnson County Community College
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Tyler Cundith, sports information director, ext. 3122


2014 NJCAA D-II Women’s Basketball Championship Preview

03/14/14

2014 NJCAA D-II Women’s Basketball Championship Preview

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Sixteen teams will make their way to Johnson County Community College next week hoping to become the 2014 NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball National Champion. The following is a look at those 16 teams.

No. 1 – North Iowa Area: Top ranked NIACC (31-2) qualified for the NJCAA D-II Tournament for the first time in 20 years. Sophomore Chelsey Jacox topped the 1,000 points in her career and ranks as the program’s all-time assists leader. She ranks 6th in the country with a scoring average of 22.7. NIACC made five appearances at the D-I level, including three times at JCCC in the late 70’s, including the inaugural year in 1975.

No. 2 – Highland:  Highland earned its second straight trip to the tournament, and its fourth overall. The Lady Scotties also qualified when JCCC hosted in 1976 and 1977. Last year Highland placed fifth overall. B.J. Smith has guided the program to an 88-12 record in his three seasons at the helm. Sophomore Julia Alves leads the team in both scoring (13.2) and rebounding (8.9).

No. 3 – St. Clair County: This is St. Clair County’s third straight D-II Tournament appearance and fourth overall. The Skippers finished fourth last year. Head coach Michael Groulx has a 60-5 record in his two seasons at SC4. Sophomore Sheyna Davis leads the team with a scoring average of 18.7 per game, and is shooting 53 percent from the field.

No. 4 – Mesa: This is Mesa’s third consecutive trip to the NJCAA D-II Tournament, and seventh overall. This is also Mesa’s third trip to nationals at JCCC. The Thunderbirds qualified in 1980 and 1981 when JCCC was the D-I host. Mesa reached the title game last year, falling to 75-65 to Monroe College.  The team’s leading scorer is Peace Amukamara at 13.4 per game, but close behind are Madi Austin and Mariah Willadsen at 13.3 and 13.1 per game respectively.

No. 5 – Kishwaukee:  The Kougars make their second trip to the national tournament. Kishwaukee placed fourth in its first appearance in 2012. The Kougars top two scorers are sophomores Sinclair Cunningham and Tami Moore. Cunningham averages a double-double of 16.0 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. Moore leads the team with a scoring average of 19.1 per game.

No. 6 – Louisburg:  Louisburg is another team in the field making it’s third straight trip to the D-II Tournament, but the program also made 18 appearances as a D-I program, including four years when JCCC was the first host.  In her first season at Louisburg, Shay Hays has led her team to a 23-5 record entering the tournament. Her team in led in scoring by sophomore guards Courtney Raiford and Kiara Rawls, each averaging 13.9 per game.

No. 7 - Lake Michigan: The Red Hawks have eight total national tournament appearances, including six at the D-II. They also have a string of three straight appearances. They played for the national title in 2012, falling to Monroe, 78-73, and place eighth last year.  Four players average double figures for Lake Michigan, led by sophomore Lexi Hobbs at 14.8 ppg. Also averaging double figures are DeYahnna Styles (12.0), Sabrina Trujillo (11.4) and Kaitelyn Smith (10.1).

No. 8 – Kankakee: The Cavaliers have the most D-II Tournament appearance in NJCAA history, with 16, and third for most tournament win with 24. The program also qualified twice as a D-I participant. Kankakee has reached the title game five times, winning a championship in 1995, and placing second in 1993, 1996, 2007 and 2008. Sophomore guard Sarafina Handy leads the Cavaliers in scoring with an 18.8 per game average. She also leads the team at the free throw line shooting 84 percent.

No 9 – Cincinnati State: The Surge earned the program’s seventh trip to nationals, their third at the D-II level, thanks to a second half comeback over defending district champion Owens. Trailing by 10 with 11 to play, Cincinnati State went on a 17-2 run to take control and eventually win its third district title in four years. The Surge top two point producers are freshman Emily Fite at 17.0 per game, and freshman Phylicia Johnson at 16.9 per game. Fite also leads the team with a 10.4 rebound average.

No. 10 – Parkland: The Cobras (24-9) are making it fifth trip to D-II nationals, but its first since 2011.  That year Parkland finished third overall. The Cobras enter the tournament winners of nine of their last 10 including a 76-66 win over Lake Land in the Region 24 Championship.  Parkland has a balanced attack with four players averaging double figures. Hannah Vaughn leads with a 14.5 per game average, followed by Erin Kelly (12.7), Jocie Klocke (10.7) and Jerica Hawkins (10.3).

No. 11 – Monroe: Since 2006, Monroe has won four national championships, including back-to-back titles D-II titles in 2011 and 2012. The Mustangs were also the D-III national champions in 2006 and 2008. The program also has a string of 11 straight trips to nationals. Monroe placed sixth last year. James Robinson, Jr., has been at the helm for five seasons, posting a 123-28 record over that span. Only 0.6 points per game separates Monroe’s top three scorers. Tirara Brown leads at 11.7, but close behind are Breana Bey (11.5) and Aallyah Mercer (11.1).

No. 12 – Chesapeake:  The Skipjacks raced to a 19-0 start to its season, but limped into the region tournament with three defeats in its final five games. But the Chesapeake rose to the occasion in postseason play, notching a 30-point win in the semifinals, and a 27-point win in the title game, which earned the program its third straight trip to the tournament. The Skipjacks are 73-10 over the last three seasons, Prior to the 2011-12 campaign, the program had never won more than 15 games in a season. Freshman guard Ashley Pegram leads the team and ranks third nationally with a 23.5 points per game average. Next is Darla Simmons at 17.2 per game.

No 13 – Mercyhurst North East: In her first season as head coach, Chenara Wilson guided the Saints to program’s second tournament appearance, and first since 2006. Their road to JCCC campus was highlighted by a win over No. 1 seed Niagara in the semifinals.

No. 14 – North Central Missouri: NCMC makes is first trip to nationals since 2007, and its third overall. Head coach Jenni Croy was the assistant coach on the last qualifying team. The Lady Pirates are 17-12 overall, but bring a 10-game winning streak dating back to January into the tournament.  The Lady Pirates feature four players averaging double figures. Kayla Oetterer leads with a 15.1 average, followed by Samone Redditt (12.8), Lexi Hope (11.3) and Brook Parton (10.2).

No. 15 – Essex County: The Wolverines are making it first trip to D-II nationals, but its fifth national tournament appearance in program history. Essex County qualified as a D-I school four times, including the 1977 and 1978 tournament hosted by JCCC. Head coach Robyn Burton took over the program in last year. Sophomore guard Emma Block leads the team in scoring with a 17.4 average. Also in double figures are Shanique Graves (16.0) and Rosalyn Johnson (11.4).

No. 16 – Dakota-Bottineau: The Ladyjacks are making its first trip to nationals and are the only team in the field to bring a sub .500 record (15-17).  However, the program has been close to qualifying before, winning four Region XIII title since 2000 only to fall in the District Tournament. Freshman guard Imani Scott leads the Ladyjacks with a 16.1 scoring average. She also leads the team shooting 82 percent from the line. Savannah Bruce is the other player averaging double figures at 13.4 per game.