Donaldson, IN — After advancing to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national basketball tournament last year, the Ancilla College (26-7, 12-4) women’s basketball team has undergone a lot of changes.
Fourth-year head coach Tom Robbins resigned and six sophomores graduated and moved on to four-year institutions. Robbins had done some recruiting before leaving so the roster wasn’t completely decimated.
Ancilla lost a lot of experience and talent in that sophomore class, but new coach Jenarius Thurman didn’t have to do a total rebuild of the program. The Lady Chargers return all-Region 9, District G point guard LaRae Rascoe (Indianapolis) and shooting guard Camryn Kopka (Winamac). Backup point guard Markeysha Coleman (Gary) also returns.
Hired in June, Thurman went to work trying to put together this year’s team. He was able to retain four players Robbins had signed in 5-7 Cierra Spearman (Indianapolis), guard Nicole Sharp and forward Emily Richard both of Sharpsville, and two sport standout Emily Jakes of Delphi, who also played soccer.
Thurman brought in shooting guard Talia Bee of Valparaiso, Kiara Hairston from Marian High School in South Bend and off-guard Tae’Jae Smith (Gary). Triton High School standout Jaela Meister (Bourbon), a 5-10 freshman and 5-6 forward Brittany Ferguson (Gary) both joined the team after volleyball season. Skyler MacGregor (Beach Grove), a 5-8 forward comes from the soccer program.
With Thurman getting hired late, it also effected the non-conference scheduling for the Lady Chargers. Only two of the 10 non-conference games are at home and seven of the eight away games are in Illinois.
The season opener is Thursday, Nov. 1 against Kankakee Community College in Kankakee, IL at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. The first home game is Nov. 17 in a men and women’s double-header at the LifePlex in Plymouth. Game time is 1 p.m. with the men following at about 3 p.m.
The Michigan Community College Athletic Association looks to be a tough conference again this year. Despite finishing 12-4 in the conference last season the Lady Chargers finished third in the regular season before rebounding against some favorable draws to win the NJCAA District 12 regional tournament and advance to nationals.
The conference season gets underway on January 3 in a home game against Lake Michigan at 5:30 p.m. It is the first of a three game home stand for the Lady Chargers.