While the beginning of the 2013-14 season has presented its challenges to the Harper women's basketball team, they have a chance to right the ship as they begin N4C play at Joliet tonight.
The Hawks are 2-9 this season, with wins coming over McHenry County College and Olive-Harvey College. Last year, the Hawks finished with a 5-9 record in conference play.
Standout sophomores Monica Hinderer (Arlington Heights, Ill./The Willows Academy) and Rachel Payne (Wheeling, Ill./Schaumburg Christian Academy) have been an unstoppable tandem in non-conference play, accounting for 68 percent of the team's offense so far this year. Hinderer averages a double-double with 21.2 PPG (18th in nation) and 14.0 RPG (fifth in nation) while Payne scores 18.0 PPG (T-33rd in nation) to go with 4.9 RPG and 3.2 APG (team-best).
Here's a look at the records of each N4C team in non-conference play:
Rock Valley 10-4
The Hawks play each conference foe twice in league play. Here's a breakdown of each opponent:
Harper at Joliet, Jan. 8
Joliet at Harper, Feb. 1
The Wolves boast only one player, Samantha Wurtz, in double digits scoring at 10.1 PPG. Laporshia Williams leads the team in rebounding with 10.8 a contest.
The Wolves won both games against the Hawks last year.
Rock Valley at Harper (at Judson University), Jan. 11
Harper at Rock Valley, Feb. 5
The Golden Eagles come in as the top-ranked team in the nation at the NJCAA Div. III level. Rock Valley scores 80.9 PPG while only surrendering 49.7 PPG.
Rock Valley is led by star sophomore Marquiesha Grant, who scores 19.4 PPG. Fellow sophomores Shantiera Miller (13.0 PPG) and Aleesha Cleaver (10.6 PPG) are also viable scoring options.
The Golden Eagles swept the season series from Harper last season.
Harper at Wright, Jan. 15
Wright at Harper, Feb. 8
Itsayana Campos (13.1 PPG) and Zaporia Smith (11.0 PPG) form a strong 1-2 scoring punch for the Rams. Latrice King has been a force on the glass, averaging 10.6 RPG.
The Hawks won both matchups last season, 57-39 and 57-50. Hinderer averaged 28.0 PPG and 16.0 RPG in the two victories.
Harper at DuPage, Jan. 18
DuPage at Harper, Feb. 12
The Chapparals are led by star forward Donna Koerber, who averages 22.3 PPG and 9.8 RPG. Two other DuPage starters, Brandi McAlister (10.4 PPG) and Sarah Lang (10.1 PPG), average in double figures scoring. Lang 5.7 assists per contest ranks seventh in the nation.
The Chapparals beat the Hawks in both matchups last season.
Milwaukee at Harper, Jan. 22
Harper at Milwaukee (at Alverno College), Feb. 15
The Stormers enter N4C play on a roll, having won 10 of their last 11 games. The Stormers have a 12-2 record a year after going 6-21.
Milwaukee is led by sophomore Ashley McHenry, who scores 21.9 PPG and collects 9.5 RPG. Benetta Jones (15.1 PPG, 7.1 RPG), Sakeenah Rahada (14.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG) and Shonnice Vaughn (10.8 PPG) are also major contributors.
The two teams split the season series in the 2012-13 season, with the Hawks winning the latter matchup 67-59.
Triton at Harper, Jan. 25
Harper at Triton, Feb. 19
Cre' Williams (10.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG) and Lisa Horn (10.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG) shoulder much of the scoring load for the Trojans.
The Hawks defeated Triton twice last year. Hinderer scored a career-high 35 points in the 64-43 win on Feb. 20.
Madison at Harper, Jan. 29
Harper at Madison, Feb. 21
The WolfPack went 1-1 in Arizona over winter break. When they returned, they lost their last game to Kishwaukee College four days ago.
Stellar freshman Gabrielle Hood (14.6 PPG) and Meagan Mazur (13.0 PPG) lead a young squad that features only two sophomores.
Madison swept the regular season series last year and ended the Hawks' season with a 71-60 win in the Region IV Quarterfinals.