Ancilla College, a small college in tiny Donaldson, IN, was named the #1 team in the nation for the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll on Tuesday. The accomplishment was not totally unexpected as the team has built a 20-1 overall record and a 10-0 start in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association West Division.
Ancilla has been listed second in the poll for the past three weeks. But losses this week by previous #1 Cuyahoga Community College and #3 ranked Parkland Community College paved the wave for the Chargers’ ascension to the top spot.
“This has been such a fun group to be around and to coach this year,” said head coach Aaron Butcher. “The guys have all sacrificed some personal things to help the team get to #1. While we are pleased with being #1, we know it’s extremely hard to stay there. We’re looking forward to continuing to prepare the right way and play the right way each game going forward and continuing our success.”
Ancilla’s lone loss on the year came on Dec. 29 when they dropped a 105-103 overtime game to Shelton College in a tournament in Melbourne, FL. Shelton was ranked 13th in the nation at the time in NJCAA Division I.
“Aaron Butcher and his team has put Ancilla College athletics on the map,” said Athletic Director, Gene Reese. “It is with great pride that I see my 20-year dream coming true.”
Butcher has built this team from the ground up. His first team in the 2012-13 season started 5-0, but once they got into the heart of the season, the games got tougher and that squad finished 8-18. In 2013-14, they started 1-5 but rebounded to a 13-15 mark. The following year, 2014-15, he finished with his first winning record (17-13) and lost in the quarterfinals of the regional tournament.
His team reached twenty wins in 2015-16 and finished 20-10 and exited the quarterfinals of the regionals with an overtime loss. Last year, the Chargers posted a 26-6 record and were beaten in the regional championship game.
Butcher has amassed 104 wins so far in his six years at Ancilla and is the winningest basketball coach in the college’s history.
This achievement comes right in the middle of the conference season, as the Chargers have eight games remaining in the MCCAA West. They could also possibly play in the MCCAA championship against the MCCAA East winner. The District 12 Regionals and a chance to play in the NJCCA National Tournament in Danville, IL, would follow that. So the Chargers have a lot of games still in front of them.
Ancilla plays at Kellogg Community College Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. and will be home to face Kalamazoo Valley Community College at 3 p.m. Saturday at the LifePlex in Plymouth.