Women’s Basketball team Region/District champions

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Women’s Basketball team Region/District champions

Hannah Lieb, with the ball, who plays guard and Lacey Hinkle, who plays forward, are playing at the nationals.

Hannah Lieb, with the ball, who plays guard and Lacey Hinkle, who plays forward, are playing at the nationals.

Noah Reem

Hannah Lieb, with the ball, who plays guard and Lacey Hinkle, who plays forward, are playing at the nationals.

Noah Reem

Noah Reem

Hannah Lieb, with the ball, who plays guard and Lacey Hinkle, who plays forward, are playing at the nationals.

Arianna Beers, Sports Editor

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AACC’s Women’s Basketball won the Division III Region Tournament at Prince George’s Community College, and will compete at nationals for the first time in 19 years.

The last time AACC’s Women’s Basketball won the Region Title was nine years ago, in the 2010 season. The Riverhawks, who finished off the regular season with 9 wins and 13 losses, rolled over the Butler County Community College Pioneers with a final score of 74-54.

Head Women’s Basketball Coach Lionel Makell said the energy from the team during the regional championship was outstanding.

“I only have six young ladies and they are probably the hardest working six student athletes that I have been around in a long time,” Makell, who graduated from AACC in 1984, said. “It’s an honor to be coaching them to be honest.”

AACC ended the first half of the game five points ahead of Butler County Community College, with a score of 37-32. Makell said at half time he motivated his team to keep up their energy in the second half and worked with the team’s only center Sarah Healy.

“I went and told her I said have you ever been a MVP,” Makell said. “She said no coach, and I said well if you keep playing like you are you will be the MVP in this tournament.”

Makell was right. Sarah Healy led the team with a total of 30 points and 22 rebounds and earned the most valuable player award because of her high stats and performance in the game.

The Division III Region XX tournament also gave All-Tournament honors to AACC Women’s Basketball players Karley Haensler, Marcelaine Augustin and Lacey Hinkle. Augustin contributed 13 points and three steals to the game and Hinkle added nine points and six rebounds.

Healy, a first-year transfer studies student, said the team’s chemistry and bond was what made them stand out and have an advantage over their opponent.

“We were very energetic and lively [during the game],” Healy said. “Everyone was on edge at first, but then we snapped out of it and went beast mode.”

Healy’s teammates Karley Haensler and Caitlyn Stanbery agree their bond and “sister vibe” is a key factor in their region win.

Haensler, a second-year forward, said her and her teammates were positive and rooting for each other to play good during the game.

“I think our team pretty much has kind of a sisterly vibe,” Haensler, who contributed 15 points and nine rebounds in the region game, said. “So when one is down everyone is down and if ones up everyone’s up. So I think … clapping, cheering and slapping hands during the game makes us stay positive.”

Stanbery, a first-year nursing student and guard, said while she feels the team was a little intimidated at first, the girls stepped it up once the game got going.

“We were all picking each other up,” Stanbery, who added two points and a steal in the region game, said. “If we did something bad we wouldn’t focus on it we would talk about how to recover.”

Coach Makell said he believes his team’s most admirable quality is grit. From losing their main shooting guard four and a half games ago, to each player having to play 40 minutes in the last four games, the Riverhawks’ have not faltered despite their challenges.

Makell said he has a character bear, a stuffed animal that is given to the player who stands out and makes the biggest impact each game. He said for each of the last five games he has given the character bear to the entire team to reward all of his players for their effort and grit.

“Our main shooter went out four and a half games ago, and they didn’t waver, didn’t change, didn’t do anything,” Makell said. “They played continuous like we had nine on the bench …whatever we ask them to do they do.”

Haensler said the team is excited for their nationals’ tournament on March 14-16, and said they are preparing for the game by staying hydrated and focused in practice.

“As a team everyone is making sure they stay healthy and hydrated of course, and staying focused with academics,” Haensler said. “When it comes to being on the court, just making sure we stay in shape and ready to go for nationals.”

The Riverhawks’ will play their first game in the NJCAA DIII National Tournament in Bethlehem PA on March 14 against Hostos Community College at 12:00 pm.

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