Focus on Sports
Chesapeake women crack NJCAA poll’s Top 10
15-0 Skipjacks one of four unbeaten teams in Division II rankings
Monday, January 13, 2014
The Chesapeake College women’s basketball team cracked the Top 10 in the NJCAA Division II national poll for the first time on Wednesday, moving up two spots to No. 10.
"I’m very happy to have us considered as a Top 10 team," said Chesapeake head coach Damon Nichols, whose Skipjacks (15-0) are one of four undefeated teams in the Top 20. "This is huge for our program. Just looking back five years to my first year as head coach, when we had trouble just fielding a team, it’s amazing what we’ve accomplished."
The Skipjacks finished seventh in the 2012 national tournament and tied for 13th at last year’s national championships, but have never had a poll ranking higher than the No. 12 position they held in this season’s two more recent polls prior to the one released on Wednesday.
Northern Iowa Area Community College (14-1, 80 poll points) was voted No. 1 for the second consecutive poll, edging unbeaten Johnson (Kan.) County Community College (15-0, 76) for the top spot. Fourth-ranked Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College (13-3, 68 points), eighth-ranked Mesa (Ariz.) Community College (9-3, 52) and 13th-rated Louisburg College (8-2, 32) are the other three programs that have held the top ranking over the first five polls of the season.
Third-ranked Illinois Central College (12-2, 72), Kirkwood, and fifth-ranked Highland (Kan.) Community College (16-0, 64) rounded out this week’s Top Five. Iowa and Kansas each have two teams in the Top Five.
Chesapeake College has appeared in the national polls each of the past three seasons. Kishwaukee (Ill.) College slipped from seventh to 11th and Pima (Ariz.) Community College fell from 11th to 14th this week to make room for Chesapeake in the Top 10.
"I told our kids from Day One to believe in our system and that hard work pays off," said Nichols.
The Skipjacks are seeking their third consecutive NJCAA Region XX championship, which would qualify them for their third straight national tournament appearance. They are currently alone atop the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference standings seeking their first-ever conference championship.
Chesapeake, which has been off since December 20th, returns to action Saturday in a 1 p.m. game at Montgomery College, the only other state program that is currently nationally ranked. The Raptors (11-7, 4-2) are sixth in the nation in NJCAA Division III.
"Montgomery is a big, solid team and they’re well-coached," said Nichols. "They will be up for us coming there to their gym with a shot at an upset, but hopefully we go in there ready to play hard."
The Chesapeake men (5-12, 4-4) also play at Montgomery on Saturday, taking on the Raptors (7-8, 3-3) in a 3 p.m. contest.
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