DONALDSON, IN – “Hoosiers” can arguably be called Indiana’s signature movie. It tells the story of a tiny rural high school’s basketball team fighting against the odds (and much larger schools) to become state champions in the 1950s. It parallels a real life story and rings very true in a state that loves both underdogs and basketball. This year Ancilla College is looking to tell a similar story.
Tuesday night the Ancilla College Chargers won a double header against Prairie State’s men’s and women’s basketball teams. The score, and Ancilla’s performance so far this season, is all the more remarkable when you consider Ancilla is a school of less than 500 students in rural northern Indiana and Prairie State enrolls over 5,000 students.
In men’s basketball the Chargers defeated the Prairie State Pioneers 71-56, in a solid performance, raising their record to 8-3. Ancilla pulled ahead early on in the game, holding a 12 point lead over the Pioneers heading into the locker rooms at halftime. The team returned to the court with that same fire in the second half, ensuring that the 15 point victory would be theirs.
Charger freshman Don’Tayon Young from Gary, IN led all scoring for the night putting up 24 points. Dylan Phair added 11 points for Ancilla and Alex Henn and Andrew Jones each contributed nine. Tre’Shon Heard (8), Jones (8) and Young (8) pulled down a combined 24 rebounds and Jones added five assists for the night.
“Our guys were really locked in early on the defensive end, as we only allowed two points the first ten minutes of the game,” remarked Charger coach Aaron Butcher. “That combined with early success from the three point line, allowed us to get a big lead that we were able to hold on to.”
Butcher is in his third year as the head men’s basketball coach at Ancilla College. He began his athletic career as a student-athlete in the Charger program. Butcher heads up Ancilla’s program after a stint as an assistant coach at Indiana Wesleyan University. At Ancilla he’s built a solid team. “Right now we are starting to get some things figured out and are getting solid contributions from a lot of guys,” Butcher said.
The win Tuesday night marks the 46th win in Coach Aaron Butcher’s career at Ancilla College and ties him with Mike Lee as the second winningest coach in Ancilla men’s basketball history.
The school’s women’s basketball teams also faced off with similar results. The Lady Chargers overwhelmed Prairie State in Tuesday night’s game 77-42.
Charger sophomore Khadijah Moore led all scoring for the night with 20 points. Her teammates Alexsis Miller (15) and Daitriona Bonds (11) added 26 points to the teams overall score and Michelle Detwiler led the team in rebounds with nine followed by Bianca Maxwell with eight and Kristen duff with seven. Maxwell also added five assists for the night.
“Our defense was really strong tonight,” remarked Charger Head Coach Tom Robbins. “Prairie State has two really nice inside players and our team defense did a nice job of keeping them out of the flow of the game.”
Robbins is only in his second year at Ancilla, coming to the college after five years as the head coach at Wabash High School.
Ancilla’s men’s and women’s teams showcase some of the diversity of the little school. Even with a small student body Ancilla has students from 12 different countries, 15 states and, remarkably, students from 124 Indiana high schools.
Both Ancilla and Prairie State are two-year, associate degree colleges, part of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). With over 500 junior colleges NJCAA member schools nationwide junior college athletics has seen an upsurge in interest over the past decade. Many community colleges have expanded their athletic offerings. From football to bowling to softball, many campuses across the country provide the chance for student-athletes to participate in the sport of their choice for competition, fun and to create a full college atmosphere.
The Chargers will be play home on Thursday night as they take on the JV team from Trine University. Game time is set for 7:30p.m.