The Parkland women’s basketball is off to a 12-1 start and a No. 13 ranking in the latest NJCAA D-II poll. Here’s how the Cobras have done it through the first week of January:

The road to successThe Cobras have had little issue in their first 13 games. Ten of their wins have come by 10 or more points, the lone exceptions being a 68-61 overtime win at Black Hawk on Nov. 29 and a 63-54 home win against Southwestern Illinois on Dec. 3. The Cobras’ lone loss was a 65-51 home defeat to then-No. 13 Rock Valley on Dec. 10.

Parkland’s offense is averaging 71.3 points per game — 29th among NJCAA Division II programs as of Thursday, with the team’s defense allowing just 49.2 points per game, the seventh-fewest in the nation.

Digging into the numbersKeying the Cobras’ offense is freshman Alyssa Cole’s team-best 17.2 points per game. Cole also leads the team on the glass with 9.8 rebounds per game, a mark that barely leads Shaelynn Bell’s average of 9.5 rebounds. Kenzey Decker has a team-leading 3.3 assists per game.

Abby Shepard is also a mainstay of the team’s starting lineup and provides scoring (7.5 points) and defense, trailing only Chloe Gould’s 1.9 steals by creating 1.8 turnovers. Bell’s 2.8 blocks per game — tied for seventh nationally — have proven clutch on the defensive end.

What’s ahead? Plenty of challenges.Parkland’s march to reach the NJCAA Division II national tournament — held March 21-25 in Port Huron, Mich., — won’t be easy. The Cobras face home-and-home battles with three ranked opponents. Two of them — No. 18 Lincoln Land and No. 10 Illinois Central — will come in Mid-West Athletic Conference play, while No. 6 Lake Land will provide two tests from an NCJAA D-I opponent.

The Cobras notched a 7-5 finish in M-WAC play last season and will open a new conference slate at Lewis and Clark in Godfrey on Jan. 14.

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