Pirates hold of Butler Grizzlies, advance to Semifinals of Region VI Tournament

Pirates hold of Butler Grizzlies, advance to Semifinals of Region VI Tournament

To keep their conference championship hopes alive, the ICC Women's Basketball team would have to get past a scrappy Butler team at home.

Sound familiar? 

As the calendar turns to March and madness awakens, the Pirates (24-6 overall) defeated the visiting Butler Grizzlies (18-13), 61-48 on Tuesday, March 1st.

After a first round bye in the Region VI tournament, Head Coach Jim Turgeon knew the first game of postseason play for this Pirate squad would be a tough matchup.

"Our players have a lot of respect for Butler, and their program and their players." Coach Turgeon said. "They knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. From a coach's perspective I was more worried about our performance and the things we do and we want to make sure we do them right. It is difficult to play a team three times in one year and beat them three times. But our team has a vision on where we want to be at the end of the season, and we had to beat Butler to be there."

Led by freshman Valentina Ojeda (twenty points, six of nine shooting) the Pirates took the lead late in the second quarter over the Grizzlies and never let up. Despite shooting thirty six percent from the field and turning it over eighteen times, the Pirates shot eighty three percent from the free throw line (15-18, only 1 miss in second half) and held Butler to fifteen percent from beyond the arc. 

Looking at his veteran-laden roster, Coach Turgeon felt it was a very solid team effort, led by the hot hand of Valentina and star sophomore point guard Maisa Marcal (twelve points, seven rebounds and seven assists).

"Maisa was good. And Valentina was fantastic. What I thought flipped the script from the second quarter into the third and fourth quarter, I thought we played a lot better together. Maisa ended up with seven assists, and Valentina was the recipient of a lot of those. For Maisa to get us going on the passing stuff Valentina to having the toughness to finish through some strong and big players. I was really pleased with those two." 

A strong home crowd and enthusiastic attendance helped make the ICC Field House a tough environment for the Butler Grizzlies (6-12 from the free throw line, 50 percent).

"First of all, I really appreciate our administration, and marketing (department), on working hard to create that atmosphere, because it was a great atmosphere. These kids deserve it," Coach Turgeon said. "They work really hard, they're winning, but not only deserve but I think we play the right way. They play really really hard, they really share the ball. To have that kind of crowd at the game and enthusiasm in the building was terrific." 

The pursuit of another conference title continues, as the ICC Pirates head to Salina for the semifinals of the Region VI tournament, where Barton awaits. 

"I know its coach speak and everyone hates it, but we honestly try to focus on one game at a time and Barton is our next opponent," Coach Turgeon said. "Last time we played them, at Barton, it was a really close game until three or four minutes left in the game and we created some distance. We know they're going to be ready. And you know, we're in the Final Four. It's in the big arena, and we get to travel and spend the night. It's a big deal for these kids. I'm sure we'll be excited and ready to play." 

The Independence Community College Pirates will take on the Barton Cougars at 1pm on Friday, March 4th in Salina.