Pioneers Trek to Rockford with National Tournament Bid

Pioneers Trek to Rockford with National Tournament Bid

Winona, MN-

After a one-year absence, the Northland Community & Technical College women's basketball team returns to a familiar stage; the 2019-20 NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championships. 

Northland punched their ticket with back-to-back wins on home court in the 2019-20 NJCAA Region XIIIB Women's Basketball Tournament over the weekend.  The top-seeded Pioneers beat No. 4 Central Lakes College 74-52 on Saturday and defeated Hibbing Community College by a 76-52 scoreline on Sunday to earn the NJCAA Region XIIIB hardware. 

Northland and head coach Shannon Nelson have been fixtures in the NJCAA Women's Basketball Division III national title race over the past ten years; the Pioneers have appeared in the Championship tournament seven times since 2010-11 and have 12 appearances overall as a program. The 2013-14 Northland squad won the NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship and the 2015-16 team took runner-up honors. 

Against Central Lakes College on Saturday,  Janie Wunderlich set the tone offensively, scoring 24 points and dishing out five assists.   Carly Mekash cleaned up on the glass, hauling in a game-high 14 rebounds while scoring 12 points herself.  Emma Waling came off the bench to add 12 points for the Pioneers in the 74-52 victory.   Central Lakes was paced by Lillee Hardee with 18 points and  Maggi Fellerman with nine rebounds and 15 points.

Hibbing Community College knocked off No. 2 seed Rainy River in the other semi-final and had hopes of defending the 2018-29 NJCAA Region XIIIB title captured last year.  Northland had other plans however, and cruised to a 76-52 win that clinched the Pioneers trip to Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, site of the 2019-20 NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championships.  

In the final, Mekash poured in 33 points on 13-of-14 shooting from the floor; she also grabbed ten rebounds and dished out five assists.  Macy Skyberg added 17 points to the Pioneer effort, while Janie Wunderlich had 16 on the day.  For Hibbing, Klaryssa Whelan scored 15 points, while  Alexis Desjarlait had 11 rebounds to lead the Cardinals in that category.  Bailey Roscoe hit double-digits with 11 for Hibbing. 

Northland joins seven other District winners;North Country (NY), Rock Valley (IL), MCAC Southern Division foe Western Tech (WI), Hostos (NY), Passaic County (NJ), Cedar Valley (TX) and Massasoit (MA).

National tournament seedings in NJCAA Division III women's basketball will be announced on Thursday, March 5 via Follow @NJCAABasketball.

The 2019-20 NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship website and information by clicking this link or going to:

For more on MCAC Women's Basketball, please go to:

NJCAA Basketball information, including the NJCAA National Top 15 Poll and Player-of-the-Week releases can be found at:

The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, as well as select member colleges in North Dakota and Wisconsin.  The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions.  The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.

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