Northeast women’s basketball begins season with fresh set of talent


A basketball with a dark background on a hardwood gym floor

Katie Berger

NORFOLK, NE – As the Northeast Community College women’s basketball team begins its 2017-18 season, Hawks Coach Matt Svehla will be working with a considerable amount of new talent on his roster.

Eight freshman players will join two returning players and two transfers this season.

“We have a good freshmen class, and we will be counting on them to contribute. They will each develop at different rates, and it will be interesting to see how they grow with experience,” said Svehla, who is entering his 24th full season as head coach at Northeast.

The Hawks’ returning players are Mykala Baylor, South Bend, IN, and Jerrica Neal, Gary, IN.

Baylor was named to the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) All-Conference First Team as a freshman.

“Mykala can be a force in the paint, while Jerrica gave us solid play on the perimeter,” Svehla said.

The Hawks have also signed two transfers to bring more experience to the team. Point guard Sierra Bell, Danville, IL, previously played at Northwest Florida State College, and Judit Valls, Sant Pol De Mar, Spain, joins Northeast from Sheridan College in Wyoming.

The Hawks finished with a 27-4 record in 2016-17 and were runner-up in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XI tournament. They averaged 85 points per game last season and led the NJCAA in field goal percentage with 52.

Svehla said he is counting on many new faces this season.

“We lost some very good players from last year, but that happens almost every year and at almost every college. Good players come and good players go. As a coach, you can’t worry about who you no longer have on your team and just focus on getting the next group ready to play. With only four sophomores on the roster, our freshmen will be the key to our success.”

Freshman players include: Jade Blackburn, Surrey, England; Kori Fischer, South Sioux City; Lauren Hunstad, Parker, SD; Brechte Norel, Hoogeveen, Netherlands; Baileigh Nuzum, Papillion; Teagan Pompa, Elgin, IL; Gemma Recasens, Roses, Spain; and Irene Sanz, Vilassar De Mar, Spain.

Four members of last year’s Northeast team are now playing at four-year colleges. Maeva Kitantou plays for Indiana State University, and Maddie Egr is on the roster at Midland University. Both Aida Santana and Cynthia Jorge play for Tiffin University in Ohio.

Jesse Dunbar is in his second year as assistant coach. Aleynah Hendrix, Scribner, serves as student manager.

The Hawks will open their season on Wednesday when they host Northeastern Junior College at 3 p.m. in the Cox Activities on the Norfolk campus.

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