Morton College's women's basketball team is playing in the NJCAA national tournament this week after celebrating its regional championship. Photo courtesy of Morton College
Area Sports Roundup | Nazareth grads Martinucci, Evans have unfinished business at NJCAA National Tourney
By Jeff Vorva
The Martinucci family carries a lot of weight in the Berwyn-Cicero area.
Tony Martinucci has coached boys basketball at Morton High School for 24 years, racking up five regional titles and a trio of conference crowns during his tenure.
His daughter, Jovanna, is hoping to do something even more spectacular: Win a national championship.
Jovann Martinucci played on Nazareth’s Class 3A girls basketball state runner-up team in 2018 and Morton College’s National Junior College Athletic Association Division II runner-up team in 2021-22. She is aiming to break through and help the Panthers win it all this year.
Morton (31-0) drew the top seed at the 16-team NJCAA National Tournament that begins Tuesday, March 21 and is scheduled to run through Saturday, March 25 in Port Huron, Michigan. The Panthers first-round opponent will be United Tribes.
Martinucci, who played at Queen of Peace before transferring to Nazareth, is a lifelong Berwyn resident.
“It’s been fun knowing this is the community I grew up in,” Martinucci stated in a news release. “We’ve never really been known for women’s basketball. Now that it’s happening, it’s really exciting.”
Heading into the national tournament, the Panthers were No. 1 in the nation in 3-pointers made with 420; second in both defensive scoring average at 43.9 points per game; and assists with 22.7 per game; No. 3 in scoring average at 90.9 points per game and eighth in steals with 16.2 per game.
Morton’s Mia Simpson was ranked first in the nation with a 73.9 field goal percentage and Claire Hyde was first in 3-pointers made with 126. Simpson was second in the nation with 128 steals.
Martinucci was fourth in the country with a 4.6 assist-to-turnover ratio, while Jalyssa Carrasco and Kaylen Evans, the latter who is a Nazareth graduate, were tied for fourth in the nation in 3-pointers made with 98.
National Tournament director Tony Tompkins said during the NJCAA’s Selection Show that Morton earned the top spot for their overall body of work.
“They’re very, very talented,” Tompkins said.
Trolls shock Cougars
A streak that started before the pandemic finally came to an end.
Saint Xavier’s men’s volleyball team had its 34-match winning streak in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference broken by neighboring Trinity Christian, which pulled off a 17-25, 25-18, 15-25, 26-24, 15-13 upset over the Cougars in Palos Heights.
Trinity, which improved to 15-7 overall and 6-4 in the league with the win, was led by former Richards’ star Alex Costa’s 18 kills and six aces. Chris Dargan added 12 kills and five blocks for the trolls.
Saint Xavier, ranked 11th in the nation in the most recent NAIA coach’s poll, fell to 15-4 overall and 8-1 in the CCAC. The Cougars’ last conference loss had been on Feb. 18, 2020, to Cardinal Stritch.
Oskar Krzyzak led the Cougars with 25 kills, the fourth most kills in a match in Cougars’ history.
Halim competes in West Asia Baseball Cup
Oak Lawn and Moraine Valley Community College alum Yunis Halim competed for Team Palestine at the West Asia Baseball Cup in January.
Halim was named as the best pitcher in the tournament and went 9-for-9 at the place.
Halim played with the Cyclones from 2015-2017 and went on to pitch for Chicago State.
Hall of famer
Evergreen Park softball coach Michelle Vucsko was inducted to the Lewis University Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Marist graduate hit .356 in four seasons with the Flyers, with 22 homers and 157 RBI in 209 games.
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