LMC women's hoops aims to return to NJCAA Tournament

Lake Michigan College’s Jayla Bibbs, right, challenges Andrews University’s Hannah Sabangan during a November 2018 game. Bibbs returns for the Red Hawks this season.

The Lake Michigan College women's basketball team had a season to remember last season.

The Red Hawks finished the 2018-19 season with a 28-7 record, including a 16-2 record in Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference play. LMC earned its first MCCAA Western Conference title since 1997.

This year's LMC outfit is young but features plenty of talent.

"We've had a good offseason," LMC coach Patrick Daniel said. "We're trying to stay as healthy as possible. We're a young team and we're looking forward to seeing where we are in the scheme of things."

LMC loses key players in sophomores Monae Palmer and Samantha Jenkins but returns three starters in guard Aymia Flowers, forward LaChelle Knox, and forward Jayla Bibbs. Bibbs – a Buchanan graduate – averaged 16.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 5.6 steals, and 3.8 assists per game in 33 starts last season.

She also received MCCAA Western Conference Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors.

"(Jayla) has to play her game and not put the weight of the team on her shoulders," Daniel said. "She was relatively unknown last year and ended up having a great season for us. Flowers returns at point guard and Knox really stepped up for us, especially being able to handle the basketball."

The Red Hawks signed a talented seven-player freshmen class, including a trio of guards in Erika Mitchell (Brandon), Kellyn Daly (Dowagiac), and Madison Bailey (Brandywine).

"Erika will play a guard and forward for us," Daniel said. "Her length should help us on the defensive end. Kellyn is a real gritty player who does a lot of things well defensively. Madison is a feisty player. What she lacks in height she makes up for with toughness."

LMC will be a work in progress offensively. The Red Hawks will lean on their defense until the offense finds its stride.

"Defensively, we have to be strong," Patrick said. "We need to be able to get stops because that fuels our offense. Getting players up to speed has been a challenge. On offense, we'll have to work at it."

Daniel and the Red Hawks hope to have another banner season in 2019-20. The team opens the season against Bryant & Stratton College on Nov. 8 at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Invitational.

"Our goal is always to compete for the conference championship," he said. "Our goals don't change; This year will be tough. We have some lofty expectations and there are a lot of tough teams out there, both nationally and in our conference.

"Working hard in practice will allow us to achieve the results we want on the court."

Contact: mharden@thehp.com, 932-0371, @HPMaxwellHarden