It was right after an 82-60 loss to South Mountain Community College on Jan. 20 that the Chandler-Gilbert Community College women’s basketball team realized that it had enough.
The Coyotes had lost nine of their past 10 games and were barely in the running for any postseason play.
“We got tired of losing,” said sophomore Diolani Oshima. “That one game, we said we’re done. It’s time to play with a purpose.”
That purpose allowed the Coyotes to win 11 of their last 14 games, including two in the NJCAA Region I Division II playoffs, and has propelled them into the NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championships, which will be held at Phoenix College beginning today.
CGCC’s first-round game will be against fifth-seeded Mott Community College of Flint, Mich., at 7 p.m.
Mott comes into the game with a 28-6 record and features one of the top scorers in the NJCAA in Nicole Holmes, who is averaging 18.7 points per game.
The unseeded Coyotes (17-12) also have one of the top scorers in Gilbert Highland High School product Sarah Hays (20.7 points per game), but recently the offensive production of the team has been spread around.
CGCC coach Cassandra Yancy said Oshima, a Phoenix St. Mary’s graduate, has been a threat from 3-point range, Andrea Videbeck and Mariah Simpkins have made clutch assists at the points, and freshmen on the team have adjusted to Yancy’s up-tempo, pressure style and are making solid contributions.
“This team has a lot of leadership,” Yancy said. “This is not a one-person team but a group that right now is running on all cylinders. We have learned that we can overcome a lot of things, that we’re fighters, and that we’re competitors.”
This is the second year CGCC has been in the national tournament, and the second time the Coyotes have faced Mott. CGCC, which came into last year’s championships seeded fourth, lost to Mott, then an unseeded team, 82-73.
Yancy said her team, which has Hays and Oshima back from last year’s run, would be more prepared for this year’s championship push.
“We’re more experienced,” Yancy said. “Last year was the first time our school was in it and I feel we were a bit caught up in that excitement. In tournaments like this, experience can be everything.
“We plan to do our best.”
Each team in the tournament will play in at least two games. Winners will continue to advance toward the championship while losers will play a consolation game, which is provided to help scouts in recruiting for four-year colleges.
PC goes EV
The Phoenix College men’s basketball team will take its 19-14 record and several former East Valley prep players to the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championships in Danville, Ill., about 117 miles south of Chicago.
The Bears will play the winner of the Community College of Rhode Island-Lewis and Clark Community College game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Former Tempe McClintock High player Dahir Nasser scored 17 points in a 57-54 win over South Mountain last week to help Phoenix College advance. Other Phoenix College players from the East Valley include Mychael Broom (Marcos de Niza), and Justin Williams (Paradise Valley).
NJCAA Division II women’s basketball championships
When: Starts today
Where: Phoenix College
Who: Chandler-Gilbert vs. Mott CC, 7 p.m. (first round)
Winner: Advances to play North Central Missouri College at 4 p.m. Thursday in quarterfinals.
Today: First-round games at noon, 2, 5 and 7 p.m.
Tournament information: Available at http://www.pc.maricopa.edu/athletic.php