Cyclones denied spot on national stage
Sweet redemption — that’s what Moraine Valley College’s women enjoyed on March 2.
That day, the Cyclones turned the tables on rival South Suburban College, which had administered a one-point setback to Moraine earlier this season. What made the Cyclones’ payback special is that this win brought SSC’s 2013-14 basketball campaign screeching to a halt while extending their own.
By virtue of its 71-70 overtime victory, Moraine advanced to the Region IV championship contest opposite No. 1-ranked Kankakee Community College. However, that’s where the fun ended.
Plagued by a bout of cold shooting, as well as the numerous trips to the free-throw line granted the Cavaliers, the Cyclones fell short of their quest to reach the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national tournament. Instead, Moraine brought the curtain down on a fine 22-11 season by absorbing a 79-56 defeat on Saturday in Elgin.
The Cyclones, who lost for only the second time in their last 12 contests, were rarely in the hunt. They trailed by only six at 24-18 in the first half, but then got buried beneath a 23-6 blitz that put the No. 10-ranked Cavaliers firmly in control.
Kankakee was ahead by 23 points at halftime and never by fewer than 17 after that. Paving the way for the Cavaliers’ early getaway were a 19-of-22 showing at the charity stripe — compared to Moraine’s 2-of-2 effort — and a decisive 35-14 rebounding advantage. Kankakee netted 13 second-chance points off its board work during the opening 20 minutes.
Taylor Roach (16 points) and Manuella Kanmegni (15 points, 10 rebounds) were the Cavaliers’ ringleaders.
Nariman Jaber paced the Cyclones with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Jamilla Jones added an 11-point, seven-rebound stat line. However, Moraine’s offense also endured a nightmarish exhibition from the floor, where the locals connected on just 22-of-74 field-goal tries.
Jones and Aileen Gorman, who finished with eight points, were both selected for the Region IV All-Tournament squad.
Jones’ pair of free throws with 8.1 seconds left in the extra session provided the Cyclones with their margin of success against SSC, but she also made her presence felt earlier. Coming off the bench, Jones supplied Moraine with totals of eight points and seven rebounds in just 11 minutes of court time.
And she wasn’t the Cyclones’ only individual of note. Katie McGann was a game-long standout with 24 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists. McGann, who played all 45 minutes, included among her scoring a school-playoff-record six 3-point baskets.
Two of McGann’s long balls helped stake Moraine to a 27-20 halftime edge. Then, after the Cyclones had allowed a 19-point lead to slip away in a span of just over 11 minutes, McGann fired in another 3 to establish a 61-all tie and the need for overtime.
The OT featured brief momentum swings for both clubs until Jones decided the issue in Moraine’s favor. After hitting her free throws, Jones rose up on the defensive end to block a last-ditch Bulldogs shot. Shavonne Lewis recovered the loose ball for the Cyclones, who were then able to run out the clock.
Gorman, who drilled a 3-pointer to aid Moraine’s cause in the extra period, finished with 10 points and seven rebounds for the Cyclones. Also lending a big hand was All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference first-teamer Maggie Yandel, who totaled nine points, six assists and five rebounds, and also held one of SSC’s top players to a below-average 11 points while guarding her.