MASON CITY — For NIACC to get back to the national tournament, it knows it’ll have to bring it all every night in the postseason.
The Lady Trojans got that started out the right way Wednesday night with a 105-40 win over Ellsworth in their Region XI tournament opener.
“We wanted to impose our will,” NIACC coach Todd Ciochetto said. “We want to send statements and I think they did tonight. I don’t think we played well in the first quarter, but I think after that we settled down and played very well.”
That first quarter was only really lacking in the offensive department, comparatively. After opening to a 5-4 lead over the Panthers, the Lady Trojans closed the quarter on a 17-0 run to take a 22-4 lead after 1. That run turned into eight straight points to start the second for a 25-0 run that Ellsworth was never able to recover from.
NIACC outscored Ellsworth 38-12 in the second and then 28-12 in the third.
It wasn’t just one player doing the heavy lifting on this night. It was a team effort once again for NIACC, which has made a habit of that this season. Mikayla Homola led the way with 16 points, Taylor Laabs scored 12 on four 3-pointers, and Khalilah Holloway added 10 points, eight rebounds and six steals.
Additionally, Morgan Frank, Kenlie Pytleski and Selena Shady had nine points apiece, and Cici Kieger and Lakin Joerger each had eight. St. Ansgar product Kelsie Willert added six points and seven rebounds.
NIACC advances to Saturday’s regional semifinal vs. Iowa Central at Kirkwood. The game will begin at 3 p.m. A potential rematch vs. No. 1 seed Kirkwood could be on the horizon on Sunday.
“We just look at it game by game,” Homola said. “We’re looking to go to Kirkwood, but tonight it was Ellsworth, then it’s (Iowa Central).”