Photo courtesy HutchCC Sports Information: HutchCC women’s basketball sophomore guard Tor’e Alford takes the ball down the court during a game last season. Alford, a key player on last year’s team that made it to the National Tournament, says she’s ready to win again, even after COVID-19 shut down sports last spring.

By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor

Remember last March when COVID-19 caused the NJCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championship to get cancelled?

So do all the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball players. Most of them remember finding out about the cancellation quite vividly.

“It was really upsetting knowing that we couldn’t play in the tournament, because I really thought we had a good chance to go really far with the team we had,” sophomore guard Tor’e Alford said.

The Blue Dragons went 28-4 and won the Jayhawk West championship. They lost in the Region 6 semifinals to Barton but still earned an at-large bid to the national tournament in Texas.

After a heartbreaking end to a season, it’s natural for a competitive athlete to have a little extra motivation to do well in the next season of competition.

“I really want to win the conference again, win the region and have a good seeding going into the national tournament,” Alford said.

Overall, the main goal for their season remains the same.

“Obviously, everyone’s goal is to win a (national championship), but I like to take things game-by-game. Win the game, then worry about the next one. Don’t look past anything,” Alford said.

Sophomore forward Kate Ogle transferred to HutchCC from Highland, so she did not get to play her freshman year as a Blue Dragon. However, she was able to be a part of the team.

“Being part of such a successful team created a really fun atmosphere. It felt like there was a lot of pressure on the team to do great since everyone knew they were a good team. This made practices really competitive – which is good,” Ogle said.

The Blue Dragons open the regular season on Jan. 22 against the Bethany junior varsity.

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