Oct 22, 2021 10:35 AM

HutchCC women second in preseason KJCCC poll

Posted Oct 22, 2021 10:35 AM

STEVE CARPENTER

HutchCC Sports Information

The two-time defending Jayhawk West champion Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the 2021-22 Jayhawk Conference title chase after the league released its annual preseason coaches’ poll on Thursday.

With several teams from the former Jayhawk East dropping to Division II this season, the 13 remaining KJCCC Division I teams will once again play in one conference with a double round-robin schedule. The KJCCC was last a one-division league from 2015-16 to 2017-18.

Head coach John Ontjes begins his 15th season with the Blue Dragons this season. Only once since 2010 have the Blue Dragons not been picked either first or second in the KJCCC preseason rankings. That was a third-place pick in 2013. The Blue Dragons have never been picked lower than fourth in a preseason poll under Ontjes.

Butler is the preseason pick to win the Jayhawk Conference this season. The rest of the Top 5 is Hutchinson, defending Region VI champion Independence, Seward County and Coffeyville.

The Blue Dragons went 19-5 last season and claimed a Jayhawk West title with a 17-5 league record. The Blue Dragons were ousted in the Region VI Tournament semifinals and didn’t receive an at-large bid to the 2021 NJCAA Tournament.

Five players return for the upcoming season, which begins on February 2 against the Bethany College JV in the Sports Arena.

Super sophomore Tor’e Alford was Hutchinson’s leading scorer at 12.4 points per game and she shot 43 percent from 3-point range.

Also back are guards Kalyn Ervin, Ishante Suttington and Yana Grassity. The fifth player returning is center Lani Morris.

Ervin averaged 8.3 points per game last season, but over her last 10 games, she was one of the Blue Dragons’ top offensive threats averaging 12.5 points per game over that span. Suttington averaged 9.3 points per game. Grassity averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 assists, but missed the last 10 games because of injury. Grassity will not be available at the start of this season because of injury. Morris averaged 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in limited duty last season.

2021-22 KJCCC WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL

1. Butler

2. Hutchinson

3. Independence

4. Seward County

5. Coffeyville

6. Cowley

7. Barton

8. Dodge City

9. Cloud County

10. Garden City

11. Colby

12. Pratt

13. Northwest Tech