Cougars Blast Off to Nationals; Get Ready for Pima on Tuesday at 8pm CST

The ICC women’s basketball team left Sunday morning for the NJCAA DII National Tournament in Hickory, North Carolina. Here’s all you need to know about the Cougars as they seek their 7th national championship in program history starting on Tuesday:

First game: Tues, April 20 at 8pm CST vs. #9 PIma
Where: Tarlton Complex, Hickory, NC (hosted by Catawba Valley CC)
Livestream: @njcaa.org/network by subscription only

How they got here

The Cougars (18-3) will be making their 31st national tourney appearance but for the first time in school history, are going thanks to an “at-large alternate” bid. The ultra-competitive Region 24 had four teams in the top 14 of the final national poll and usually only get one bid to nationals but due to schools opting out for Covid, Region 24 merged with Region 16 to share two bids.
The Cougars squandered a chance to earn the automatic district bid as they lost to Parkland April 10 & hoped for the one at-large bid that was announced April 12 but were passed over. However, later that day they were notified by the NJCAA that a qualifying team had to opt out of the tourney due to Covid & ICC was the “next team up,” so they graciously accepted. The Cougars inherited the #8 seed for the tourney & while they’re sneaking into the tourney through the back door, are thankful for the opportunity!

Key players

The Cougars are talented up-and-down the lineup and are led by the 1-2 punch of freshmen guards in Derria Edwards (Peoria HS) & Kayla Gordon (O’Fallon HS) who were named All-Region & 1st team All-MWAC. Edwards, a 5’2 speedster, leads the team in scoring at 11 ppg and dishes out 3.9 apg while the 5’4 Gordon (O’Fallon HS) averages 10.2 ppg & 3.5 apg. 6’0 forward freshman Cierra McNamee (Moline HS) packs a punch in the paint at 9.2 ppg and 6.9 rpg, which earned her a selection to the MWAC’s second team. Coach Karrie Redeker (8th season at ICC) & staff hauled in M-WAC and Region 24 Co-Coach of the Year honors as the Cougars won the M-WAC regular season title in undefeated fashion for the 3rd consecutive season.

Scouting Pima

The Aztecs (Tucson, AZ) bring a deceiving 3-3 record into the tourney as the #9 seed. Typically they are a Top 10 power, but due to school restrictions were only allowed to begin playing on March 16. They also were the only DII junior college allowed to play in their region, so 5 of their 6 games have been against tough DI jucos in AZ. They play hard, fast, furious, & are well-coached and are a tough first-round matchup. If the Cougars win Tuesday, they’ll advance to play Thursday at 7pm EST vs the winner of #1 Kirkwood/#16 North Platte & if they lose their first game, they’ll play the loser on 9am EST on Thursday.

Good luck, Cougars!