Cougars Take 4th in Nation

The ICC women’s basketball team made the most of their trip to the 2021 National Tournament as they brought home a 4th place finish with a 54-50 loss to rival Parkland College in Hickory, NC on Saturday evening. The Cougars were lackluster the first three quarters and faced a 16-point deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter but showed a fighting spirit in the final ten minutes to finish on a high note despite the loss. This year’s appearance marks the fourth time in the last six years the Cougars have made it to the National Tournament, with the other finishes being 2nd place (2016), 5th place (2018), and as a qualifier (2019).

Turnovers cost the Cougars in the early going as they got down 18-11 after the first period and then 28-22 at the half. The defense let down in the third quarter and Parkland held a 50-34 lead with 9:33 left in the game but that’s when the Cougars ignited. Courtney Jones hit two free throws and Kayla Gordon bagged a three-pointer and layup that quickly trimmed the deficit to 50-39 in less than a minute. The defense dug in and back-to-back three-pointers by Gordon and Derria Edwards cut the PC lead to 52-48 with 3:00 remaining but the Cougars managed only two more free throws the rest of the way as Parkland got the win.

Other: Lake Land won the championship game over Johnson County 53-49 which meant that three teams from Region 24 finished in the top 4 in the nation, a very impressive feat. The Cougars were given the BJ Graber Sportsmanship Award (an honor they also earned back in 2018) and Derria Edwards and Kayla Gordon were named to the 10-player All-Tournament Team. For the season, the Cougars finished with a 20-5 overall record, their 9th consecutive season with 20 wins.

Thank you’s to: Jayson Alexander/Dennie Hieronymus/Greg Martin/Stan Prosser (coaching staff), Mike Gehringer (athletic trainer), Rob Buss (director of athletics), Alex Staab (play-by-play), Matt Jones (social media), Mindy Stille & Barb Martin (food & laundry), and bus driver Jack Hoerr from Peoria Charter.

Also, a special thank you to the families of our players—you sent your daughter to ICC back in mid-August without any guarantee that we would even have a season. We thank you for your support of your daughter and our program!

Final note from Coach Redeker to the team on the season: “This was a most unusual year but one we will all never forget. From the 60 practices with no games in the fall (except our beloved “intra-squad scrimmages”), to our unique questions of the day, having all classes & study halls behind a computer screen, being in quarantine for two weeks in September and going through COVID testing at different times, our games being pushed back in January/having one canceled/playing with no fans, going through fast food drive thru’s in 15 passenger vans, to getting beat in the district tourney & hoping for an at-large bid but not getting it yet being chosen for a bid hours later, a 12-hour bus ride to the national tournament and beating the #1 seed and then ending with a 4th place finish…we are amazed at the perseverance and and faith that we would make it. Your belief in our theme of being “better together” is what got us though and we hope you really do understand that THE JOURNEY IS THE REWARD. Thank you for making us all SO PROUD!”