BILLINGS — The Miles Community College Pioneers women’s basketball team are truly pioneers this season.
The squad is 29-0 overall and 13-0 in the Mon-Dak conference and looking to capture its first undefeated regular season when it hosts United Tribes Technical College (of North Dakota) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Kailey Gymnasium. United Tribes is 13-15, 2-11.
The Pioneers defeated the Thunderbirds 79-61 on Feb. 4 in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“If we win it, we’ll go 30-0 in the regular season and Miles Community College has never had a team go undefeated in the regular season,” said second-year coach Nate Vogel. “If we can do that and set some history, it will be fun. It’s Sophomore Night for us; if we can do that and set a milestone on Sophomore Night it will be kind of fun.”
Five sophomores will be honored on Sunday. The five sophomores on the roster are Dakota Dosch, Patrycja Jaworska, Laura Moya, Bre Moea’i and Kylee Meredith. Dosch is from Cut Bank, Jaworska is from Poland, Moya is from Spain, Moea’i is from Salt Lake City and Meredith is from Kalispell.
Last season, Jaworska was an all-region selection and on the all-Region IX tournament team, Dosch was on the all-Region IX tournament team and Moea’i was on the all-region defensive team.
Jaworska has been named the conference player of the week three times this season and Moea’i has won the award twice. Freshman Carmela Garcia of Spain has also been honored as the player of the week.
Scoring at a 14.4 points per game clip, Jaworska leads the Pioneers. She also leads the squad with 3.5 assists per contest and is second on the Pioneers with 2.3 steals per game.
Moea’i averages 10.2 points per contest and a team-best 2.4 steals. Claire Borot averages a team-best 5.2 boards, along with 8.9 points.
All five of the sophomores may be moving on to the next level in 2019-20.
“They all have interest from four-year schools,” Vogel said. “It is just a matter of them making a decision. They want to wait until our season is over. They haven’t committed anywhere yet, but they all have offers.”
In the most recent National Junior College Athletic Association poll, MCC is ranked 17th — an improvement of two spots from its previous ranking. The Pioneers are one of only two teams in the country that are undefeated. The other is top-ranked Wabash Valley (Illinois) at 25-0 entering Saturday.
Overall, MCC scores 80.7 points per contest while allowing 50.6. The stingy defense is fourth-best in the nation in points per game allowed.
“We’ve recruited the right kids,” said Vogel. “Obviously, they are talented basketball players. But, team chemistry wise, this is the best team I’ve ever had or been a part of in terms of how much they care about each other. Our team chemistry is unbelievable. That carries on to the floor. That is our separator is our team chemistry.
“On the court, they play so hard and are so talented. But there are a lot of talented teams that aren’t successful because they don’t play hard.”
Last season, the Pioneers went 25-8 and were one of the final four teams playing in the Region IX tournament. MCC made the switch to Region XIII this year. Vogel added that the Pioneers also had the fourth-best grade point average (3.57) in the nation last season.
“We had a really good year on the court last year as well,” Vogel said. “We added a few pieces and are having a better year this year.”
By earning first place in the region in the regular season, MCC will host the Region XIII Tournament March 1-3.
Vogel said the regional champion will advance to play the winner of the Region IV tournament on March 9 in Illinois in the district championship. The winner of that game advances to The NJCAA DI Women’s Basketball Championships March 18-23 in Lubbock, Texas.
“Our goal is to get a little better every game,” Vogel said. “We feel like if we get better, we are going to win. It’s not a goal to go undefeated. It’s to get better the next game and take one game at a time. We feel like if we are getting better, those wins will happen and doing the things that are us — like taking charges and diving on the floor, those types of things — will get us there.”