The Mesa Community College women’s basketball team has taken a two-game lead over Division II teams in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference with a 9-4 record.
But behind the success has been a month of chaos for the Thunderbirds, said coach Kori Stephenson.
“The first three weeks were pretty rough,” Stephenson said. “We had players with the flu, an ankle injury to Gabi (Gabirella Garcia), and Alissa (Ingallina)’s mother passed away.
“That was our adversity. We learned a lot about life, and it put life into prospective. We’re all back together now, and we’ve bonded in ways we never expected.”
Out of the chaos came a special moment as well: Stephenson had her first child, Brady Scott Stephenson.
After only a short time, Stephenson is back coaching for the home stretch.
The Thunderbirds, who are 12-8 overall, have won their last three games and have propelled themselves from 19th in the NJCAA Division II poll to 13th in this week’s rankings.
“We are looking forward to the second half of the season,” Stephenson said. “Now our mental focus is on keeping home-court advantage for the playoffs.”
A by-product of MCC’s success came this week when Thunderbird Lauren Hall, who played for Chandler High School, was selected as the ACCAC women’s basketball Division II Player of the Week.
Hall had 16 points and a couple of 3-pointers in a big 66-63 win over South Mountain Community College last week.
The freshman ended the week with another 16-point game and dished out three assists in a 77-42 victory over Scottsdale.
Chandler-Gilbert’s James Malone was named the ACCAC men’s basketball Division II player of the week. Malone scored 25 points and was 4-for-4 from 3-point range as the Coyotes beat Glendale 99-75. Malone then collected 35 points against Eastern Arizona in a losing effort.
Courtney Ault, a former Desert Vista High player, is having a solid season at Yavapai College and was named NJCAA Division I women’s basketball co-player of the week for the week of Jan. 20.
Ault set two school records in a 108-80 win over Chandler-Gilbert — for most points in a game (38) and for 3-pointers in a game (9).
She followed that by scoring 19 points, including making 6-of-11 3-pointers, in a 73-57 victory over Eastern Arizona.
Her barrage of 3-pointers in those two games enabled Ault to set a school record for career 3-pointers with 139.
Baseball season has begun for the junior colleges in the East Valley, and Scottsdale Community College started with a new field and a threewin weekend.
The Artichokes defeated Colorado Northwestern Community College in three of four games Saturday and Sunday on their renovated field.
Scottsdale Community College will be in El Paso, Texas, this weekend for a two-day doubleheader against El Paso Community College.
Chandler-Gilbert Community College begins its season Sunday against Barton Community College with games at noon and 3 p.m. at CGCC.