MASON CITY | NIACC women’s basketball coach Todd Ciochetto has been anticipating the debut of this season’s edition of the Lady Trojans for some time.
The Lady Trojans have garnered some national attention with a preseason rating of ninth, and in the Konigsmark Klassic on Friday, Ciochetto could see just how accurate those expectations might be as the Lady Trojans opened their season by hosting 18th-rated Illinois Central.
The only thing slow on the night for NIACC was its start, but an 18-4 run to end the first quarter put the Lady Trojans up by nine, and they steadily built the lead through the second half for a 99-82 victory.
“We’re different this year,” Ciochetto said. “There is a lot of pressure on the girls. They have been built up.”
What NIACC fans saw was a versatile team with a small core of sophomore leadership and a lot of freshman talent that gives Ciochetto options for controlling a game.
After falling behind 14-9, the Lady Trojans adjusted their full-court press and took over the game in the last 4:26 of the first quarter.
Traditionally under Ciochetto, the NIACC offense has featured a lot of driving from the outside and three-point shooting, and one thing that became apparent was that several of the Lady Trojans can break down a defense off the dribble.
“We have seven or eight who can drive,” Ciochetto said. “But we can go big too.”
Mikayla Homola, a freshman from Maple Grove, Minnesota, came up big in her first junior college game as she led NIACC with 22 points – including 17 in the first half.
Homola made three of the Lady Trojans’ 10 3-pont goals.
Khalilah Holloway came off the bench for 18 points and nine rebounds while sophomore guard Adria Stewart finished with 16 points.
Fourteen different Lady Trojans scored in the game.
“I think the freshmen follow and see how the sophomores are doing things right,” Stewart said. “We have become very close.”
NIACC (1-0) returns to action today at 3 p.m. when it plays host to Bay College.