By Cassidy Crites
For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team was picked atop of the Jayhawk Conference for the 2017-2018 season. The Blue Dragons have won at least a share of the conference championship every season but one since 2011.
After returning only three players from last year’s team, the 2017-2018 Blue Dragons feature new faces but still look to reload into another successful season.
In 2016-2017, Hutchinson posted a 33-2 record. The team shared the Jayhawk Conference title, but won Region 6, competing at the NJCAA Women’s Division I National Tournament, playing in the second round.
Sophomore guard Alicia Brown is the only player back who played in all 35 games last season. Brown averaged 7.1 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Other returnees include sophomore guard Brianna Bradshaw and sophomore forward Kayla Barber. Bradshaw averaged 1.7 points on nine minutes per game, competing in 27 games last season. Barber played in 28 games averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds.
“We have a fairly new team with three returners and nine new kids. It will take us awhile to gain some chemistry,” said Hutchinson coach John Ontjes.
Of the nine new players, the three newcomers to watch are freshman guard Tia Bradshaw and freshmen forwards Jada Mickens and Dejanae Roebuck.
“Those are three newcomers that could be major contributors,” said Ontjes.
Other new faces include freshmen guards Allissia Green, Coretta Hopkins, Kelsey Brett and Sara Cramer. Redshirt sophomore Tijuana Kimbro is at center, alongside freshman Fama Gueye, and rounding out the Blue Dragons is freshman forward Vivian Chigbu.
Beginning his 11th season, Ontjes has become the program leader in coaching victories, assembling a record of 287-62 with a percentage of .822.
Hutchinson opens up regular season play on Wednesday against the Bethany College junior varsity at the Sports Arena, with tipoff at 5:30.