MASON CITY, Iowa – The North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) women’s basketball team is in the midst of a quite successful season. The team boasts a 25-5 record, having won its last 13 games. With a mixture of skilled players and a strong team bond, the Trojans have one player that is helping take them to the next level.
Freshman guard Mandy Willems from AGWSR never imagined she would be in the position that she is today.
“She wasn’t very confident in herself coming out of high school,” said NIACC head coach, Todd Ciochetto. “(She) didn’t know she could play college basketball. We knew she could play, and I think after the first few weeks she figured out she was pretty good and she’s taken off from there.”
Taken off is an understatement. In a series of three games in four nights prior to Wednesday’s game against Little Priest Tribal College, she posted a total of 123 points. 99 of those came from behind the arc. With 156 three-pointers on the season, Willems only needs 15 more to break a two-year record in her inaugural season. Willems says it is a combination of confidence and her teammates sharing the rock.
“I think it’s a mixture of both,” said Willems. “Definitely my teammates finding me and looking for me in transition but also just confidence in myself helps out with that.”
Posting such impressive numbers hasn’t gone unnoticed. On Wednesday, Willems was announced the National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Player of the Week for the second time this season, causing NCAA recruits and coaches to bombard the phone lines.
“There's been some bigger schools showing some interest but we’ll just see what happens at the end of the season,” Willems said.
As for Coach Ciochetto, he wants to see her succeed, but her NIACC uniform is still hers next season if she wants it.
“She knows if she wants to leave if she gets the right offer, she leaves,” said Ciochetto. "If she wants to stay, we want her back more than she knows but you know, the kid didn’t have one offer out of high school (NCAA) DII or DI, and now she can go wherever in the country she wants.”
Willems scored 20 points on Wednesday against Little Priest Tribal College, including four threes, now only needing 11 more to break the record.