The Laramie County Community College women’s basketball team concluded its season in the quarterfinals of the Region IX tournament.
The Golden Eagles beat Central Wyoming College 69-60 on March 1 to advance in the Region IX tournament. They would go on to play Northeastern Junior College on March 7.
LCCC struggled shooting the ball as it shot 34.5 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from three-point range. NJC got out to an early 20-6 lead at the end of the first. LCCC would then cut into that lead by going on a 15-2 run and outscoring the Plainswoman 21-14 in the second, and to only trail 34-27 at the half, which would be the closest the Golden Eagles would be to catching NJC. LCCC would eventually drop the game 72-61.
Redshirt freshman standout Gabi O’Connor had a game-high 24 points, and Ja’Kia Wells almost had a double-double as she chipped in with 13 points and led the Golden Eagles with nine rebounds and three assists. NJC shot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range. LCCC also only made four three-pointers in the game, which is unusual as the Golden Eagles usually averaged 7.4 per game during the season.
Despite the season ending sooner than hoped, according to third-year head coach Brian Ortmeier, it was still a successful season.
“There were a lot of firsts for the program, first being able to host a home playoff game, team high in wins — it was a good season,” Ortmeier said.
LCCC won 19 games, which is a four-win increase from the season before. Ortmeier credits the successful season to his sophomores. According to Ortmeier, the sophomores became leaders and played very well when it came to crunch time. The sophomores on the team included Courtney Walker, Karli O’Brien, Kyliegh Milan, Jessica Stoner, and O’Connor. Despite O’Connor being a redshirt-freshman, according to Ortmeier, it was likely her last season with LCCC.
“They can only take so many classes with being a two-year school. Gabi has also received some interest at the DI level,” Ortmeier said.
According to Ortmeier, along with the Interest at the NCAA Division I level, O’Connor has received multiple offers from the NCAA DII level. O’Connor earned All-Region IX North Team this season.
No other sophomores have been receiving the interest like O’Connor, but Ortmeier said it’s due to the season not being over for NCAA and NAIA schools.
“It’s similar to us; we let the season end, take time to decompose, then go after it with recruiting,” Ortmeier said.
Looking forward to next season, Ortmeier is only losing those few sophomores and returning the rest, including stars Haylie Anderson and Ja’Kia Wells.
“Haylie really stepped up this season, doing good things off the bench to eventually being added to the starting rotation,” Ortmeier said.
Anderson started 16 games, averaged 13 points per game, shot 42 percent from three, and shot 78 percent from the freethrow line.
Wells only started seven games for the Golden Eagles but provided quality minutes off the bench when she wasn’t starting.