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McKinney heads to national tourney with Tritons

WCHS graduate overcomes injury to help ICCC succeed

Webster City native Taylor McKinney (center) celebrates with her Iowa Central women’s basketball teammates after the Tritons knocked off DMACC in the regional final. ICCC will play at the national tournament on Thursday. Messenger photo

HICKORY, N.C. — Like so many around the country, Taylor McKinney missed out on several “normal” parts of college life this year.

But for the former Webster City High School standout, she was dealt another difficult hill after suffering a concussion during her first season with the Iowa Central women’s basketball team.

McKinney has since recovered and will compete alongside her teammates at the NJCAA Div. II National Tournament here beginning Thursday night. The Tritons advanced to the quarterfinals after Macomb was forced out due to COVID-19.

The injury left the always-active McKinney on the sidelines for five games.

“Coming back was such a long process,” McKinney said. “Not only did I miss those games, but I felt like I missed out on a lot team-wise.

“The most difficult part was knowing how long I was going to be out and how much time it takes to bounce back from that kind of injury. It is something that was hard both mentally and physically to get back from.”

McKinney enters the week averaging just under four points, an assist and a steal per game for the Tritons (13-8 overall).

After starting the season only 4-7, the Tritons found their rhythm as a group, winning seven in a row and eight of their last nine — highlighted by an upset victory over nationally-ranked DMACC in the regional final.

That burst happened right at the time McKinney returned to the court.

“One of the big things we’ve said all season as a team is we have a ton of potential to do great things,” McKinney said. “Even after our losses early in the year, we never gave up. It was more of how can we turn this season around and get back on the winning track.

“That all started with our win on the road at Southeastern, which was actually my very first game back from my concussion. From there, we kept our heads high and focused on one game at a time.”

Iowa Central will be the No. 12 seed in the 16-team tournament. They finished third overall in the ICCAC this year.

“Going to nationals with this team is something we’ve worked so hard for since August,” McKinney said. “As a freshman, it doesn’t get much better than that. This team deserves every bit of it and I’m so proud of each and every one of them.”

The Tritons play at 8 p.m. on Thursday against either Grand Rapids (Mich.) or Johnson County (Kan.).

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