Lady Cavaliers wrap up yet another great season
It was another year, another great season for the Kankakee Community College women's basketball team.
During the final weekend of March, the Lady Cavaliers were in the spot to which the program has become accustomed — the national tournament, Region IV title in hand. This season marked the third time in four years KCC has made it to the national tournament, where it claimed fourth place, and the 21st time in the last 27 years the team has won the region title.
This year's edition of the Lady Cavaliers posted a 30-4 record — the second-straight 30-win season for the program and fourth in eight seasons — and finished in the top 10 of numerous categories in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
The team started realizing its potential over the course of the campaign, KCC Head Coach Donnie Denson said.
“I think as the season progressed, I think we started you know having some thoughts of what we might be able to do,” he told the Kankakee Times.
The team's big strength this season, Denson said, was its defense. That showed in the season's statistics. The Lady Cavaliers were fourth nationally in steals per game (15.1), 11th in average rebound margin each contest (15.4), and ranked in the top third of Division II teams in field-goal percentage allowed (44th at 37.2 percent).
That defensive strength continued into the postseason. Denson said that defense was what saved the team in the regional title game — a 64-62 overtime win over Carl Sandburg on March 11 in Sugar Grove — and keyed KCC's first two national tournament wins. Even in the 66-57 loss to Monroe in the final game of the season on March 25 in Harrison, Arkansas, the Lady Cavaliers used defense to come back from a big deficit to make it a close game.
“I don't think we particularly showed real well in our semifinal game at the national tournament,” Denson said. “I think we did in the last 10 minutes of the third-and-fourth place game against Monroe. I think we showed our defensive abilities.”
Now comes the tough part — doing it again next season after saying goodbye to many of this year's star players. Of the current roster, only two Lady Cavaliers have eligibility left at the school: guard Kiara Moses, who averaged 8.1 points and 3.6 assists per game, and forward/center Carly Massey, who had 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest.
Denson said that next season presents a test and challenge that he and the coaching staff nonetheless are looking forward to. And the goals will remain the same.
“The players that we bring in, we're going to ask them to step up and become, you know, college-basketball players and young adults,” he said.
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