BY CHAD DARE
A year ago, the Danville Area Community College women’s basketball team made a huge jump forward.
The Lady Jaguars went from just three wins in the first year under coach Kyle Bent to 19 last year, included in that was a win over the Parkland Cobras and 12 victories in 14 home games.
But, that’s now history.
Bent and his Lady Jaguars opened the 2012-13 season with a 81-27 win against Hannibal-LaGrange on Friday night in Hannibal, Mo.
Up next for DACC is the John Wood Shootout in Quincy where the Lady Jaguars will play Moberly Area Community College on Saturday and Central Methodist on Sunday.
“There isn’t a specific amount of wins that we’re shooting for this season,’’ Bent said. “We just want to keep building our program.
“We made big strides last year, but we still had some lapses in games that kept us from playing our best basketball at the end of the season.’’
After the big win over Parkland in early February, DACC won just three of its final seven games.
“I think we peaked a little too early last year,’’ Bent admitted. “We were playing our best basketball in late January/early February.
“I would rather see us continuing to get better through that stretch and then play our best in March.’’
DACC returns four key members of last year’s squad led by Mid-West Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of Year Kayton Cole from New Albany, Ind.
“Kayton really did a lot of things for us last year with the basketball,’’ Bent said. “But, this year, I’m seeing her do even more without the ball.
“She is really providing a positive leadership for this group.’’
Also returning is former North Vermillion standout Hillary Lively, a second-team all-conference selection last season, along with Tierra Golightly and Emily Montgomery.
“Hillary has really matured and she gives us a player with a high basketball IQ,’’ Bent said. “Tierra played on the wing last year, but we’re moving her back to a more natural post position and getting Emily back from injury is a big boost in our sophomore leadership.’’
Bent also brought in a very successful recruiting class this fall, including local standouts Samantha Siddens (Bismarck-Henning) and Paige Thevenin (Chrisman). Also in that group is freshman point guard Tori Stephenson from New Palestine, Ind., and Javonna Smith, a 5-foot-10 post player from Chicago.
“Stephens is your typical point guard and she has looked really good in practice,’’ Bent said. “Siddens is very solid — she is one of our best passers.
“But, the biggest surprise has Smith. She will play one of the forward spots and she brings a ton of energy to the floor.’’
Nayla Lunsford, a freshman from Madison, Ind., has been sidelined for the first part of the season with an injury.
The DACC will host St. Mary of the Woods on Wednesday at the Mary Miller Gymnasium.