OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - The NIACC women’s basketball team was 12-19 and 4-12 in the ICCAC in Kelli Terrell’s first year as head coach in the 2011-12 season.
Two seasons later, the Lady Trojans are the third best team in the nation.
NIACC topped St. Clair County Community College 77-71 Saturday to claim third place at the NJCAA Division II tournament on the Johnson County Community College campus.
“We’re really proud of what we accomplished this year,” Terrell said. “We got through the regional tournament and had the opportunity to play on this big stage. We have to be proud of what we did this year.”
NIACC won a school-record 34 games with three losses, ran through one of the toughest regions in the country with a perfect 16-0 record and was 3-1 at the national tournament and had sophomores Lateeka Thompson and Chelsey Jacox both earn all-tournament honors at the national tournament.
In Terrell’s first season as head coach, NIACC lost to Iowa Central 94-50 in the first round of the regional tournament. Last season, the Lady Trojans were 18-13 but fell to Southeastern 64-55 in the regional opener.
Terrell brought back 10 sophomores for the 2013-14 season and the Lady Trojans created a season full of unforgettable moments.
“Our big wins – beating Kirkwood twice, beating DMACC three times, beating Iowa Central on back-to-back weekends on their home floor,” Terrell said, “will be things I’ll never forget.
“And all this week we’ve been making memories.”
Thompson, who averaged 14.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in the four tournament games, also accumulated two years worth of memories in her time as a Lady Trojan.
“We were pretty much like a family,” she said.
In Saturday’s win over St. Clair, the whole NIACC family contributed to the victory. For most of the first half, Terrell subbed in five players at a time and 10 players logged at least 10 minutes.
Jacox scored 18 points and Thompson scored 16 points as the Lady Trojans closed their record-breaking season with the 6-point win and went out on a winning note.
“From losing in the first round (of regional tournament in 2013) to third place at the national tournament, any team would be pleased,” Thompson said. “So I’m happy with it.”
NIACC led 38-30 at the half against St. Clair and held on for the six-point victory less than 24 hours after dropping a 85-73 decision to Mesa Community College in the semifinals.
Terrell said her team got back to just playing basketball in Saturday’s consolation game.
“We were ahving a lot of fun,” Terrell said. “We were getting a lot of people into the game.
“We left some negative energy on the floor (Friday) and flipped that around real quick. That’s the type of kids they are and they redeemed themselves.”
Notes: Terrell has a career record of 64-35 … Jacox scored 1,181 career points (1st on school’s career list) with 307 career assists (1st on school’s career list) and 155 career steals (7th on school’s career list) … Thompson scored 880 career points (8th on school’s career list) with 375 rebounds (5th on school’s career list), 168 assists (8th on school’s career list) and 176 steals (3rd on school’s career list) … Emily Bell, who 13 of 33 from 3-point range at the national tournament, connected on 110 career 3-point goals (2nd on school’s all-time list).
NIACC 77, St. Clair County CC 71
St. Clair - Destiny Spiner 7, Sheyna Deans 20, Andranay Beverly 4, Lariah Stevens 6, Rachel Kehoe 9, Whitley Currie 14, Haley Rutledge 3, Ta’Kira Height 8. Totals – 30-65 9-17 71.
NIACC - Chelsey Jacox 18, Lateeka Thompson 16, Sierra Ford-Washington 5, Cortni Rush 6, Alexis Boyd-Lockett 4, Emily Bell 8, Ashleigh Onaca 5, Morgan Walker 9, Taylor Bianchi 6. Totals – 26-83 17-24 77.
3-point goals – St. Clair (2-6): Spiner 1, Rutledge 1. NIACC (8-43): Jacox 1, Thompson 1, Bell 2, Onaca 1, Walker 1, Bianchi 2. Total fouls – St. Clair 20, NIACC 14. Fouled out -none. Score at half: NIACC 38, St. Clair 30.