Women’s Basketball Claims Regional Championship

The College of DuPage women’s basketball team triumphed over Joliet Junior College, winning the NJCAA Region 4 Division III championship.

Claire Valenti, Sports Writer

The College of DuPage women’s basketball team was down by one point Sunday afternoon going into the third quarter of the NJCAA Region 4 Division III championship game against Joliet Junior College. When the Chaparrals came out for the second half, they capitalized on their free-throw opportunities, earning 20 points from the foul line over the last two quarters. The Chaparrals defeated the Wolves in the JJC Event Center 80-67, making them NJCAA Region 4 Division III champions.

Head women’s basketball coach Abby Talley was named NJCAA Region 4 Division III Women’s Coach of the Year. With this season being the first she coached, she commented on the struggles the team faced throughout the season.

“I’m brand new. These girls didn’t know me; they didn’t have to trust the process, but they did and it shows,” Tally said. “We had some girls leave early on. We gained some back. We had some more leave, and then we had some coaches quit on staff. There’s just so much adversity in one season. They dealt with it, overcame it and came together, and that’s what sets us apart from other teams in region; we’re able to be a unit instead of just individuals.”

Freshman guard Sierra Gibson racked up 20 points with six rebounds. She also made four assists and one block. Gibson was named Most Valuable Player for the NJCAA Region 4 Division III tournament and received a plaque.

“I feel great; I wasn’t expecting anything like that,” she said. “I was saying in the huddle too that ‘we’re playing for each other, no independent ball today, we are a team.’ That’s why we won, we’re a team and [the Wolves] are not; they were more independent today.”

The Chaparrals had a 1-1 record against the JJC Wolves in the regular season. (Rachel Wagner)

Sophomore guard Mykah Berkompas scored 18 points with one rebound and one assist. She received a plaque and was named part of the NJCAA Region 4 Division III all-tournament team.

“I’m on cloud nine right now. I can’t think of any words to describe this,” Berkompas said. “Playing the whole season last season, being literally dead last to now be regional champs, there’s no better feeling. We put DuPage back on the map, and it feels so good, especially because we’re such a hard-working group; you couldn’t ask for harder-working people.”

Sophomore forward Katlyn Allen earned 12 points with seven rebounds and six assists before fouling out with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. She was the second Chaparral to be named part of the all-tournament team alongside Berkompas.

“The first couple minutes we came out really strong and then dropped a little bit in the first quarter,” Allen said. “The second quarter was when I knew that this was our game because we fought back from being down. We just wanted it way more than they wanted it. We worked a lot harder than they did. We pushed ourselves, and we pushed each other; we made sure we left it all on the court.”

Sophomore guard Morgan Nesemeier scored 12 points with three rebounds and one assist. She said the team’s momentum is what helped keep her head clear during the game.

Sophomore guard Alyssa Havard fights to keep the ball in play to pass to sophomore guard Mykah Berkompas. (Rachel Wagner)

“We [said] whoever comes out with the most energy is going to win the game,” Nesemeier said. “We struggled a little bit in the first half because we were down at halftime by one. After our locker room talk and our work in the third quarter, we were up and we stayed up.”

Sophomore guard Alyssa Havard earned 10 points with seven rebounds. She also made four assists and the only two steals of the night. Harvard said she knew the Chaparrals were going to win the second she woke up.

“I could feel it in my bones,” Havard said. “I was telling my parents, I was telling my brothers, I said, ‘This is our game to win.’ I knew once we came out today we couldn’t let up, and we had to keep pushing; even though some mishaps happened, we kept going and we finished it.”

Sophomore forward Korriana Wilson scored eight points with three rebounds and two assists. She said going from the bottom last season to being at the top this season is how she knows the team is going to go further.

“I was very nervous today and yesterday, my heart was non-stop beating,” Wilson said. “As soon as I got on the court and we started the game, all the nerves went away, and I knew we were going to dominate. It was a close game in the first half, but we fought back and we’re going to keep fighting.”

The Chaparrals will fight for the NJCAA Great Lakes District championship against the Owens Community College Express at 1 p.m. EST on March 4 in Toledo, Ohio.