Alumni game

NCCC guard Lauren Jones dribbles through traffic in the first women’s alumni game in 30 years. NCCC’s current team would go on to defeat the alumni team 61-53.

ROBERT MAGOBET

History was made Saturday for Neosho County Community College’s women’s basketball program.

For the first time in 30 years, the Lady Panthers participated in Present versus the Past — a college women’s alumni basketball game. Seventh-year head coach JJ Davis said Athletic Director Riann Mullis fostered the idea for the alumni game to be hosted in the school’s gym.

As a result, 25 players of Davis’ former teams — including Bianca Valderrama, Ki’Asha Harris, Brooke Neal, Lyric Martin and Kascity Martin, who were a part of the 2015-16 NCCC team as well as Ashley Grant, NCCC’s all-time leading scorer — participated in a game versus several of Davis’ current players of the 2019-20 season in front of a handful of NCCC faithful.

In a brash basketball game full of intense moments, Davis said it was good for his current team to cozy up with players who laced up sneakers for him once before.

“We have pictures of most of those girls in our Wall of Fame downstairs. Any time you can have those kids come back and tell (the current players), ‘It’s not that bad, you are going to get through it, you’re just going to keep on getting better,’ it helps reinforce it,” Davis said.

Alumni girls were reinforcing that notion through the entirety of the game, as the contest itself was very competitive, though the current 2019-20 bunch ended up winning 61-53 in overtime behind Morgan Bolen’s 15 points and 10 rebounds. And even though the alumni team had members coming off of Division II, Division III and NAIA college basketball stints, the current NCCC team was able to win with four out of their five sophomores not playing, including Chrissy Brown, Jessica Jones, Hayley Stiger and Ashley Dillinger. 

Davis thinks this is the competitive sharpening his team needs before the first game of the season versus Labette Community College on Nov. 2. 

“This is a tough conference; it’s a physical conference,” Davis continued. “Any chance that you get at being able to play against grown women that just got out of big-time programs, it’s a positive — it’s always good.”

NCCC’s next scrimmage will be 5:30 pm Wednesday in Fort Scott. 

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