IVCC women transition to conference champs
The Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC) women's basketball team knows about transition: It has gone from a team that tired out late in the season and was short on players last year to one playing its best ball late in the year with a full roster. Plus, it knows how to score on the fast break -- perhaps its best transition of all.
The combination has taken IVCC to a conference championship and a huge win against Olive-Harvey in the Region IV District L Tournament on Tuesday. The top-seeded Eagles crushed the Panthers 122-39 to move on to the semi-finals on Saturday.
IVCC's high-powered offense has netted 70 points or more in 23 out of its 30 games this season, thanks at least in part to having more depth and a quick, conditioned team.
"It’s my first time having more than 10 players, and we ended up with 15," coach Tom Ptak said. "So with that in mind we decided that we were going to be an up-tempo team and push the ball as much as possible. To score in transition was the goal."
The Eagles got off to an inspired 7-0 start this season, pushing the pace as their confidence raised, but then lost four of their next five and put their championship hopes in doubt. That's when a team leader stepped up to help bring them back around.
"Dee Pavlovich (first-team All-Region) is our leader," Ptak said. "She was the one who called a player-only meeting when we hit a bump mid-season and put us on the right track. She’s been vocal in practice and has made some big shots when we needed them."
Ptak also credits several other standouts for the team's record. Hannah Wolfe (second-team All-Region) is a strong post player, Julia Pohar is a freshman starter with a 93 percent free throw percentage -- highest in the nation-- and Ellie Herrmann is a do-everything player who hustles to do the little things well.
To be at their best, Illinois Valley uses game film to study and prepare before they even get on the court.
"We have the wonderful advantage of having film, so we watch film of our upcoming opponent, come up with a game plan and practice what we need to do," Ptak said. "Preparation gives us confidence, so we go in to each game with the attitude to take care of business. Team chemistry is huge; everyone must understand their role and that has taken some time."
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