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Women’s Basketball Team Takes Best Shot at Playoff Berth

4/13/18


Forward Kaylee Kieffer was named to the All-Region 19 Third Team.
Photo by Derek DiGregorio.

Tylisha Livingston averaged 16 points per game for the Vikings.
Photo by Derek DiGregorio.

Sophomore guard Shaunice Palms was solid in the back court.
Photo by Derek DiGregorio.

Sophomore forward Shanice Barnes was strong offensively and defensively. Photo by Derek DiGregorio.

Freshman guard Jess Adamo got a lot of playing time and should be ready for even bigger things next year. Photo by Derek DiGregorio.

West Windsor, N.J. – While the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) women’s basketball team had its share of struggles this season, there were also moments of really good basketball. It all added up to an 11-18 season that easily surpassed last year’s record. With several talented freshmen expected to return, the potential is strong for even greater gains next season.

According to Head Coach Mike Tenaglia, who completed his 28th season with the Vikings, the women’s roster was longer at the start. Seven players made it through to the end, but those who remained were hardworking and tenacious.

"We were in contention for a playoff spot until the final two weeks," Tenaglia reported, adding that the team was talented on both offensive and defense.

Two players made contributions that earned them accolades at the regional level. One was 6’0 freshman forward Kaylee Kieffer, who was named to the All-Region 19 Third Team, the first time an MCCC women’s player has earned All-Region honors since the 2011-2012 season. Earlier in the season, Kieffer was twice selected as the Garden State Athletic Conference Player of the Week.

Kieffer's stats are impressive. In the course of the regular season, she had 19 double-doubles in 27 games and finished as the seventh-best rebounder in National Junior College Athletic Association Division II women’s basketball (13.5 rebounds per game). Kieffer also finished among the nation’s highest scorers. Her 17.6 points per game average was 49th in the nation and her 475 points on the season ranks 41st. Given that point total, she has a chance to reach the milestone 1,000-point mark when she returns for her sophomore season.

Also making a big impact was freshman forward Tylisha Livingston, who also earned Garden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Division II Players of the Week honors. By season’s end, Livingston averaged 16 points and 9 rebounds per game (69th in the country).

Two other dominant players were sophomores Shanice Barnes, a 6’2” forward, and guard Shaunice Palms. (Palms was also a two-year goalie for the women’s soccer team.)

Tenaglia says that rebounding was the team’s greatest asset. “We had good size this year, which has not always been the case, and we had more presence inside. Every member of the team could rebound."

That assessment is backed up by the numbers. The Vikings were ranked 5th in the nation in defensive rebounds (31) and total rebounds (50), and 12th in offensive rebounds (18). (Mercer was close to the top 100 in almost every statistical category.)

The reduced roster created more opportunities for the seven girls who remained to the end. Freshman guard Jessica Adamo was one of them. “She got a lot of playing time later in the season," Tenaglia said. "That's all part of her development for next year.”

He also praised freshman guard Gabby Juarez, a women’s soccer player who made the transition to the basketball court. “She was a hard worker and was a good contributor on defense.”

Tenaglia is pleased with the work ethic and camaraderie on this squad. “They did a nice job,," he said, adding that with one or two more players, the Vikings would probably have extended their season well into the playoffs.

That’s exactly what Tengalia and his assistant coaches are shooting for next year. Recruitment is already under way. And, as they recruit, Tenaglia continues to press the point that women who truly want to play basketball will get their best shot at Mercer.

“Mercer is a great option for women who want to play ball – and not sit on the bench – in their first two years," he said. "There are so many girls who choose higher-priced four-year schools and then they never play. The opportunities for them are here at Mercer, athletically and financially.”

Tenaglia was ably assisted this year by Jane Berlinger and former AAU coach Charlie Brown.


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