Photo by Jamie Seed/NJCAA
Moraine Valley assistant coach Sean Mackey takes a selfie of the women's basketball team during nationals in Arkansas.
Moraine Valley Community College’s women’s basketball team’s quest for a national championship was dashed Tuesday, but the Cyclones can still bring some hardware back home.
Unlike some national tournaments, which are single elimination, the Cyclones will still be hanging around Harrison, Arkansas, for a few days as they compete in the consolation round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Championships after dropping a 77-71 first-round decision to Kalamazoo Valley at Pioneer Pavilion.
The 10th-seeded Cyclones (16-18) are scheduled to play Lackawanna (Pa.) (19-11) at 9 a.m. today, Thursday in the first round of the consolation bracket. Lackawanna suffered a 72-44 defeat to No. 2 Johnson County.
Seventh-seeded Kalamazoo (29-3) raced out to a 25-12 lead after the first quarter and Moraine was able to close the gap to 51-48 after three quarters but could not pull it out.
As for most of the games in the past two seasons, the Cyclones were led by Mother McAuley graduate and Evergreen Park native Erin Drynan and Andrew graduate Michelle Borgen.
Drynan scored 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and notched two blocks and two steals. Borgen had 23 points and seven rebounds. Diamond Dortch and Krista Brill each had eight points.
The team stats were nearly identical in shooting percentage (Moraine was 39.7 percent to Kalamazoo’s 38.2), free throw shooting (Moraine had a 64.7-65.4 percent advantage) and rebounds (Kalamazoo had a 44-43 advantage). But the Cyclones were guilty of 26 turnovers, which led to 21 Kalamazoo points.
This was the first time the Cyclones qualified for nationals since 1989.
Even before the first basketball was bounced this season, coach Delwyn Jones had a good feeling about this team.
The dynamic duo of Drynan and Borgen and their ability to dominate inside, had the coach thinking big.
“I really feel that there’s no way we can’t go to nationals as long as we stay healthy,” Jones said dyring the preseason. “This team is just flat-out good.’’
On the court, they proved him right as the Cyclones won 31 of 33 games with their only losses coming to Triton (69-67) and Kankakee (83-74) and ran the table in the Skyway Conference.
But late in the season, the NJCAA ordered the forfeiture of 15 games for using ineligible players and the Cyclones were given a 4-8 mark in the conference and entered the nationals with a 16-17 record.
Jones called them “very minor infractions” and there was no intent to cheat.
He also said that the team was able to get through the disappointment of being stripped those victories and made it to the nationals.
“They have fought and have never given up,” Jones said. “We feel the world is against us and tried to take away some things we felt we earned legitimately.’’
The area has one other connection in the tournament.
Evergreen Park’s Megan Pfister, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, is playing for Kankakee Community College, which had a first-round game on Wednesday night.