Morton College's Mia Simpson, shown in a game against McHenry earlier in the season, had 19 points and 20 rebounds on March 4 against Moraine Valley. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Morton College's Mia Simpson, shown in a game against McHenry earlier in the season, had 19 points and 20 rebounds on March 4 against Moraine Valley. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Hoops Wrap | Morton College taking aim at national title

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

Morton College’s women’s basketball team took its first postseason step in its quest for a national championship.

The Panthers, who finished second in the nation in the National Junior College Association Division II Tournament last year, handily defeated Moraine Valley, 91-51, on March 4 in Rockford to head into the Region IV title game for the third straight year.

Morton (30-0, ranked first in the nation by NJCAA coaches) faces Rock Valley at 2:30 Saturday, March 11 in Rockford. The winner goes to the national tournament.  Morton beat Rock Valley 69-59 on Dec. 8.

The Panthers scored 18 straight in the first quarter to take a 32-11 lead against Moraine Valley and had a 13-point run in the second quarter to take a 57-21 halftime lead.

Mia Simpson, 5-foot-8 guard from Waukegan, played big as she led the Panthers with 19 points and 20 rebounds. Former Nazareth star Kaylen Evans added 20 points.

Morton connected on its 400th 3-pointer of the season in the game as the Panthers nailed 17 treys against the Cyclones.

Moraine finished the season 15-16.

 

MVCC men fall
Moraine Valley’s men’s team also made it to the semifinals of the Region IV tournament, but fell to Olive Harvey, 84-81, on March 5.

The Cyclones, who had a 41-31 halftime lead erased in the second half, ended up having to play catch-up in the closing minute and couldn’t covert a layup with four seconds left, which would have put them ahead.

Moraine finished the season 25-7.

 

SXU earns national bid
The good news for Saint Xavier’s men’s basketball team is that it received an at-large bid in the 64-team NAIA Men’s National Championship Tournament.

The bad news for the Cougars is that are the 16th seed in the Cramer Quadrant of the tournament and were scheduled to play top seed William Penn University on March 7 in Oskaloosa, Iowa, in the first round.

The two teams had never played each other before. They were scheduled for a Dec. 12, 2020 battle in Oskaloosa but that game was canceled because of COVID-19.

 

Shimko out at St. Laurence
According to a post on the St. Laurence Facebook page, girls basketball coach George Shimko will not be returning to the program he started in 2017 when the school went coed.

“We are thankful to coach Shimko for his commitment to the program these past six years,” read a statement on the Facebook page. “Our athletic program is committed to building a program that produces long-term, sustainable success and will begin the search immediately for the next girls basketball coach.”

Shimko won his 100th game as a Vikings coach in January. Prior to starting the program at St. Laurence, he was the head coach at Queen of Peace until that school closed. Several Queen of Peace players headed to St. Laurence.

The Vikings won a Class 3A regional title in 2017-18.

 

All-State players
The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association named its all-state teams.

In Class 3A, state champion Nazareth did not have an all-state first-team member, but senior Grace Carstensen was named to the second team and Amalia Dray made the third team. Roadrunner players Olivia Austin, Stella Salakas and Danielle Scully were special mentions.

In Class 4A, the area was shut out of the third three all-state teams. Sandburg’s Josie Canellis, Lyons’ Ally Cesarini and Mother McAuley’s Morgan Feil were special mention players.

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