Photo courtesy of Moraine Valley Community College
Erin Drynan, shown battling in a first-round loss to Kalamazoo Valley, had two huge games at the NJCAA nationals before getting in foul trouble in a third game against Guilford Tech.
The top priority last week for Moraine Valley Community College’s women’s basketball team was to being home a national championship trophy.
That didn’t happen.
Another priority was to give one the most lethal 1-2 punches in MVCC’s history a shot of drawing interest from four-year colleges.
That remains to be seen.
But the Cyclones’ Erin Drynan and Michelle Borgen gave recruiters an eyeful, no matter if it was live and in person at the Pioneer Pavilion on the campus of North Arkansas College in Harrison, Ark., or streaming from their computers and phones.
The Cyclones finished 1-2 and placed in the top 12 in the country in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II championships and both inside stars put up some monster numbers against some of the best junior college talent in the nation and that should make some four-year coaches salivate.
Moraine (17-19) opened play as the 10th seed and suffered a 77-71 loss to seventh-seeded Kalamazoo Valley on March 21 as a first quarter 25-12 deficit doomed the Cyclones right away.
Drynan, a 6-foot-3 Mother McAuley graduate and Evergreen Park native, had 21 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in the contest. Borgen, a 6-1 Andrew graduate, had a rough game shooting from the floor (6-of-18) and from the line (11-19) but despite that, she led the Cyclones with 23 points and added seven rebounds.
That setback guaranteed that the Cyclones would not win a national title, but it was not time to go home, just yet. The Cyclones joined seven other first-round losing teams in a mix to try to win the consolation title.
Two days after the first-round setback, the Cyclones knocked out 15th-seeded Lackawanna, 64-59 in the consolation quarterfinals.
Borgen had 25 points and 24 rebounds in that battle while Dryan added 21 points, 16 rebounds, nine blocked shots and three steals.
On Friday, however, the Cyclones’ season came to an end with a wild 91-83 loss in the consolation semifinals to Guilford Tech.
Borgen pounded in 38 points and 14 rebounds but Drynan was in foul trouble most of the game and had 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks in 16 minutes of work. Ashley Carroll, a 5-10 sophomore from Beecher, was able to show some colleges her skills as she poured in 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
“We played really hard and gave it everything we have. When my team needed me, I stepped up,” Carroll said. “I love this team. It was fun. Even with the losses, we still never let it get us down. Even though we didn’t do what we wanted, we still made it here.”
“I thought we fought hard,’’ Cyclones coach Delwyn Jones said of the final game. “Their speed at the guard position was too much, and they hurt us on fast breaks and foul trouble on the inside. They bothered us enough on the perimeter so we couldn’t get the ball to the post. Drynan’s foul trouble hurt us big time. It changed what we do. Ashley stepped up and played well, but it’s hard to replace a 6-3 player.”
This concludes a rollercoaster season that saw the Cyclones win 32 of 36 games on the floor but was forced to forfeit 15 games for using ineligible players. MVCC officials said the penalties were a result of paperwork problems and not a result of cheating.
Kirkwood (Mo.) won the national championship with a 61-46 victory over Johnson County.
Pfister helps Kankakee to fourth
Kankakee Community College, which has Evergreen Park’s Megan Pfister on the roster, finished fourth after entering the 16-team nationals as the fifth seed.
Pfister had seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in 30 minutes in a 66-57 victory over Essex County to open the tournament.
Kankakee beat Chesapeake, 65-55 in the second round with Pfister scoring seven points and hauling down three rebounds.
The team dropped its semifinal game, 76-49 to eventual champion Kirkwood in the quarterfinals as Pfister had eight points.
In a 66-57 loss to Monroe County in the third-place game, she had eight points and three rebounds.