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Women’s Basketball: Challenges loom for ECC

Hampshire product Jennifer Dumoul5-8 guard continues family traditiECC started by sisters Alex Cassie. | Sun-Times MediFile

Hampshire product Jennifer Dumoulin, a 5-8 guard, continues the family tradition at ECC started by sisters Alex and Cassie. | Sun-Times Media File

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Updated: November 12, 2013 6:48PM

After making the JUCO Division II nationals and winning a second straight Skyway Conference title with a veteran team, the Elgin Community College women’s basketball team figured to be in rebuilding mode this season.

A few minutes into the Spartans’ first game, it got even more difficult for coach Jerry McLaughlin as Sarah Nelson, the only Spartan with measurable experience at the next level, went down with an ankle injury and will be sidelined at least two weeks.

“Sarah had a big role for us last year and we’ll have to get through this as a team,” said McLaughlin, last winter’s Region IV Coach of the Year.

Nelson represents the lone returning player with starting experience — just three games — as the Spartans will rely heavily on a freshman class that McLaughlin hopes will be as productive as the 2011-12 group which sparked last year’s 26-8 finish.

“We’re going to throw a lot of the freshmen into the fire without Sarah and see who can step up,” McLaughlin said.

ECC’s success has been based on pressure defense all over the court, and it won’t change even with this inexperienced group.

“Defensively, it’s not a question, but in women’s basketball, the key thing is you have to make shots and find a way to score,” McLaughlin said. “If not, it becomes a struggle.

“We didn’t shoot well in our first games. We didn’t shoot free throws well and that’s something you have to do if you want to play uptempo and press like we do.”

Nelson is one of the team’s tallest players at 5-foot-10. Returning sophomores Alexa Diaz (5-9) and Jennifer Chesney (5-11) played sparingly last year, but are being counted on this season to assume leadership roles.

Hampshire’s Jennifer Dumoulin, a 5-8 guard, continues the team’s tradition of the Dumoulin sisters — Alex earned JUCO Division II All-America status last year and her sister Cassie had the previous year.

“You only have to tell a Dumoulin to do something once and it gets done,” McLaughlin said.

Burlington Central’s Erica Haynes, Streamwood’s Kim Jimenez and Dundee-Crown’s Jordan Bartelt are freshmen who join Dumoulin in the backcourt.

Hampshire’s 5-8 Lizzy Panzica, Jacobs’ 5-10 Jackie Bartolai and 6-foot Westminster product Porsche Griggs are the frontcourt freshmen expected to make the Spartans solid near the basket.

“They’re all good rebounders,” McLaughlin said. “Porsche had knee problems in high school, but if she’s healthy she can be a really good player for us.”

Last year’s success will keep ECC from sneaking up on opponents.

“In our conference, Moraine Valley, Prairie State, Waubonsee, all will be solid, and in the region Kishwaukee, and the Blackhawks school, they’ll all be hoping to get a piece of us after last year,” McLaughlin said.

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