MCC women open basketball season Tuesday at home
When the McCook Community College women open their season Tuesday at home against a ranked opponent, MCC Coach Brandon Pritchett will have his youngest and smallest team yet. He also faces a tough schedule with four games against nationally ranked opponents before the holiday break.
“We going to be young and smaller than probably any team I’ve had here but I think we’ll be a little more athletic and will be able to shoot the ball a little bit better,” Pritchett said.
MCC will host No. 12 Iowa Western Community College to launch the season at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center. The Reivers went 22-8 last year and finished eighth in the Division 2 rankings.
This is the first of eight home games to be played in November and December and is a schedule Pritchett calls the toughest he’s faced in his four years leading the program. MCC has a non-conference slate that also includes Trinity Valley, Texas (Preseason No. 3, Division I) and a November home-and-home series with D-1 No. 12 New Mexico Junior College.
“I think we have a dynamic group but there are probably going to be some bumps and bruises early on – especially with this schedule -- but I think by the end of the season we can make a run at things,” Pritchett said.
THE MCC LADIES’ BASKETBALL TEAM went 19-12 on the season and tied for the second seed in the Region IX South Division regular season. In addition, MCC went 5-1 and tied for first place in the Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference.
“I do think our young players are solid and can step into some roles,” Pritchett said. The team has two sophomores coming in at semester, but the November-December schedule will be an important one for a 2022-2023 squad that includes players from seven countries.
“Right now, we are learning the physicality of the game, with a lot of internationals again and everybody plays a little different,” Pritchett said. “So, they are learning the American game, the mental elements of adjusting to college-level competition and preparing for a grinding schedule.”
MCC’s roster includes three players from Spain, two from Germany, and one each from Barbados, Sweden, Australia, and Chile, along with players from Florida, Illinois, and Colorado.
THE RETURNING GUARDS: Vanessa, Jurewicz, returns as the leading point-scorer and the only returning starter from a season ago. In her first season after being converted from a shooting guard to point guard, the 5-7 sophomore from Stockholm, Sweden started all 31 games for MCC scored 14.3 points per game, 2.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds.
“She played a huge role for us last year, especially down the stretch,” said Pritchett. “We’re looking for her to step up and be a leader.”
Last season, she shot 36.9 percent from the field, made 55 of 174 shots from the 3-point line (31.6 percent), and sank 86 of 111 shots from the free-throw line (77.7 percent). She was named to the all-NCCAC team, the all-Region IX South Team, and the all-Region IX Tournament Team.
Itziar Aransay Badia (El Prat de Llobregat, Spain) also returns at the guard spot. She played in 25 games averaging 6.5 minutes a game as a freshman, scoring 55 points, shooting 36.4 percent from the floor and 31.0 percent from the 3-point line.
“Injuries kind of slowed her progress last year and the start of this year but we look for her to be healthy and play a bigger role for us this season from a shooting standpoint,” said Pritchett.
Taryn Lindsey (freshman guard, Fountain, Colo.) missed all of her freshman year because of a knee injury sustained in high school.
“She brings some experience just from watching and being around the program for a year and there’s nothing like that game experience, but we think she can come in and help us this year,” Pritchett said.
Jahnari Byrdlong (Provisio West High School, Chicago) is a sophomore transfer from Highland Community College (Kansas) where she last played in 2019-2020. The 5-9 guard averaged 6.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in 22 games for the Scotties that season.
“She’s getting back in the groove of things and learning our system, but she brings some experience at the college level and being a little but older it’s a good thing for us to have with her,” Pritchett said.
THE RETURNING FORWARDS: Valentina Monzo, a 6-2 forward from Santiago Chile, appeared in the first five games to start last season, missed three weeks because of injury then played her final game Dec. 3. She later received a medical redshirt extension and returned to Chile where she had knee surgery. She’s back on campus this fall but won’t be available to start the season.
“She probably won’t be able to go until the second semester and she is still recovering from her surgery and has a lot of work to do in her rehab, but hopefully, come spring we can have her back and healthy,” Pritchett said.
Monzo arrived on campus in January of 2020 and played in 23 games in the abbreviated season that was played entirely in the spring because of the coronavirus. She averaged 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. Last year. Last season, in the six games she played before the holiday break she averaged 10.7 points and 3.7 rebounds with a 57.1 percent field goal percentage and 47.1 percent from the 3-point line.
Gail Whiting (Montgomery, Ala.) last played for MCC in the spring of 2021 but is returning for her final semester, according to Pritchett.
Whiting, a 5-9 forward, was named to the 2021 all-Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference team, and also to the all-Region IX Defensive team. She averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds and led the team with 2.8 steals per game and 61 for the season. She shot 50.3 percent from the field and led the team with 59 offensive rebounds and 132 overall.
“She’s taking classes here and was gone last year but things just didn’t work out at her school so she’s using her Covid-19 year to come back here and help us in the spring,” Pritchett said. “With all the freshman we have it’ll be nice to have that game-tested experience.”
THE FRESHMEN GUARDS: First-year players at the guard spot include: Jalexa Williams (Winter Springs, Fla.), Natalie Harmata (Sydney, Australia), Lucia Orthen, (Berlin, Germany), Gemma Gruettner Bacoul (Berlin, Germany), and Marta Moya Perez (Alboraya, Spain).
Pritchett said Williams is probably one of the toughest players he’s had in a while and plays with a lot of energy and heart.
“She plays defense aggressively and I think could be one of our better defenders and maybe even in the region,” Pritchett said.
The coach has been impressed with Harmata’s energy, and the fact she is able to make up for any shortcomings with hustle and determination.
“Our German girls, Lucia and Gemma can both really shoot the ball,” Pritchett said. “Gemma can score in a lot of different ways while Lucia is a bigger guard who can play point-guard.”
Perez is another player the coach expects can come in a play several different roles for the team and can score and create her own shots.
Pritchett likes that his roster is flexible enough to allow MCC to have four point-guards on the floor at the same time if needed.
THE FRESHMEN FORWARDS: MCC will be inexperienced at the forward spot until the sophomores return at semester. The three freshman forwards include: Rebecca Dunn (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Noa Iglesias Chorda (Barcelona, Spain) and Tatyana Walrond (Bridgeton, Barbados).
“Rebecca is a couple years out of high school and brings a physicality for us and Noa has been a bright spot this preseason and I really like her basketball IQ,” Pritchett said.
The coach said while Walrond is young and doesn’t have a lot of organized basketball in her background, she has come such a long way that he expects her role to increase as the season progresses.
“I really think all these freshmen will all have the opportunity to come in and play,” Pritchett said. “And I think we can be a very deep team.”
THE PRE-HOLIDAY PORTION of the 2022 schedule includes a home tournament – The Cobblestone Hotel and Suites Thanksgiving Classic -- the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Nebraska Western and Fort Scott Community College will open the tournament Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. and MCC will play No. 12 New Mexico on Friday at 7:30 p.m. On Nov. 26, Western Nebraska and New Mexico will play at 1 p.m. with MCC taking on Fort Scott at 3 p.m. Western Nebraska was an NJCAA Division 1 Final Four team one year ago.
November weekends include a road trip to Wyoming Nov. 4-5 to face Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, and to Torrington to face Eastern Wyoming. On Nov. 18-19 MCC travels to Hobbs New Mexico to face the 12th ranked Thunderbirds and Frank Phillips (Texas).
In December MCC hosts Laramie County and Eastern Wyoming Dec. 2-3; faces the Hastings College JVs at home Dec. 8 and travels to Seward Dec. 16-17 to face No. 3 Trinity Valley and Redlands CC (Reno, Okla.)
THE SECOND HALF of the season begins with four straight Region IX home contests starting Jan. 13 and 14 against Otero and Trinidad and the following week against Northeastern Junior College and Western Nebraska.
The Ladies will close out the home-portion of the regular season with three February games, Feb. 7 vs. Southeast CC, Feb. 10 vs. Lamar and the final home game Feb. 14 against North Platte.
For all the up-to-date information on MCC women’s basketball this season and all sports including schedules, statistics, rosters and photos, please visit the official website of MCC Athletics at mccindians.com
Here is MCC Women’s home schedule:
Nov. 1 –vs. Iowa Western Community College, 6 p.m.
Nov. 7 – vs. Northwest Kansas Technical College, 6 p.m.
Nov. 22 – vs. Central Community College-Columbus, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 25 – vs. New Mexico Junior College, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 26 – vs Fort Scott Community College, 3 p.m.
Dec. 2 – vs. Laramie County Community College, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 – vs. Eastern Wyoming College, 2 p.m.
Dec. 8 – vs. Hastings College JV, 6 p.m.
Jan. 13 – vs. Otero Junior College, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 – vs. Trinidad State College, 2 p.m.
Jan. 19 – vs. Northeastern Junior College, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 20 – vs. Western Nebraska Community College, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 – vs. Southeast Community College, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 10 – vs. Lamar Community College, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 14 – vs. North Platte Community College, 5:30 p.m.