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L&C Faced Uphill Climb Against Some of Nation’s Best DII Teams

Article by: Pete Hayes, the Telegraph, phayes@thetelegraph.com

DANVILLE — The Lewis and Clark Community College women’s basketball team faced a difficult situation this season. Despite a load of talent, the Trailblazers found themselves in a familiar quandary:

Right team, tough region.

The L&C women saw their season end in the NJCAA District M semifinals at the hands of an Illinois Central College team that spent the last four weeks of the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation.

“Our region could be the toughest in the nation,” L&C coach Jaron Young said. “I said that at the beginning of the year and I still believe it. There are some excellent teams in our league.”

The Trailblazers gave ICC one of its toughest battles late in the season, losing just 62-60 at the River Bend Arena in Godfrey.

While that result gave L&C reason enough to be confident, it had little to do with the way things went Saturday in the semifinal battle with the Cougars - the teams’ third meeting of the season. Illinois Central powered its way to a relatively uneventful 66-47 victory in the semifinal victory.

ICC went on to beat Lincoln Land in Sunday’s championship game 86-66 and with it, a berth in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.

“We had the misfortune of playing in the same region with two or three of the better teams in the country,” Young said. “I liked our team. At times this year, we showed signs of being a pretty good team ourselves.

“But when you face teams in the top 20 in the country, you’ve got to be better than pretty good.”

A big portion of the problem, Young admitted, was playing with consistency.

“If you want to win consistently, you have to play with consistency,” he said. “We had some good games, but had some that weren’t so good.”

One of those “good games” came in the first round of the playoffs. Playing at Parkland for the second time in four days, the Trailblazers grabbed a 67-53 victory after having lost 56-50 to the Cobras in the previous game.

Among the other memorable victories along the way was a 71-60 victory over Division I school Southwestern Illinois, a 72-53 victory over D-I Moberly Area College, and 80-58 win over John Wood College after a 68-62 loss to the same team two weeks earlier in Quincy.

But perhaps the most memorable games weren’t victories at all. Besides the Trailblazers’ 62-60 close-call defeat at the hands of Illinois Central, Lewis and Clark also dropped a pair of close games to nationally ranked Lincoln Land, 79-75 and 77-67.

The Trailblazers were led in scoring by 6-foot-1 sophomore Alexus Williams, a transfer from Grambling State, who averaged 12.4 points per game. Teammate Jocelyn Anderson, a 6-0 sophomore from Lincoln, Nebraska, averaged 11.1 ppg. They were the only two Trailblazers to finish the season averaging in double figures.

L&C averaged 68.1 ppg as a team per game and gave up an average of 63 points a game.

“We were close in some of our losses to some good teams,” Young said. “Our players worked hard and stayed focused.”

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