Former Kirkwood basketball player Cyerra Hutchins begins coaching career as Eagles assistant

Assistant Coach Cyerra Hutchins along with Jen Francescon (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Assistant Coach Cyerra Hutchins along with Jen Francescon (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Fourth-ranked Kirkwood routs Southwestern, 87-49, in regional quarterfinal

Women's College Basketball: Southwestern Spartans at Kirkwood Eagles on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

CEDAR RAPIDS — Coaching was not always the plan for Cyerra Hutchins.

But as the former Cedar Rapids Prairie and Kirkwood basketball player watched her playing career wind down last season at Loras, she began to visualize a continued role in the game.

That vision quickly materialized into a position as assistant coach of the Kirkwood women's basketball team, where Hutchins played for two seasons (2015-16).

"I was, 'I really want to get back into basketball, I don't want to quit just yet,'" Hutchins recalled after fourth-ranked Kirkwood smothered Southwestern, 87-49, in an NJCAA Division II women's basketball regional quarterfinal on Wednesday at Johnson Hall. "Coach (Kim Muhl) had a position open up and what better opportunity than to assistant coach one of the best coaches in the nation?"

So far, so good for Hutchins, who is working with the Kirkwood post players, a position that was a bit foreign to her after a playing career spent primarily at guard. Recruiting is also a different animal, a task that has sent Hutchins across the Midwest to meet prospective players. At 22, she says she is occasionally mistaken for a player, but her ability to relate to recruits has been a plus.

"The thing with her is she is just kind of getting her feet wet," Muhl said. "Getting it figured out. Finding out how much work actually goes into it on a daily basis and it doesn't end when you walk off the floor. It just continues and recruiting is an ongoing constant because that changes like the wind. That's part of the deal. Part of the deal with that position she is in, kids either have to have a passion or urgency or it is like a one or two-year position and they go do something else. That is the way it works. It's nothing personal. It is just the way it is. If you have the passion to do it, you want to get into it, the opportunity is there. We've talked about that."

Six different players scored in double figures for Kirkwood (26-6) Wednesday, led by 14 points apiece from West Branch graduate Haley Mullinnix and Paige Bradford, who continues to play well in place of injured leading scorer Ashley Tull.

"You see at the beginning of the year the maturity level grow," Hutchins said of the Kirkwood roster. "The skill level, especially, is outstanding and what Coach does with the program and what he does with the kids, it's really cool just watching him coach and then along with being an assistant coach and helping the kids out."

Kirkwood will travel to Mason City on Saturday for a regional semifinal against DMACC (16-14). Win there, and a trip to the national tournament would hinge on a likely meeting with top-seeded NIACC the following day on its home floor.

"We're ready to go play," Muhl said. "That's all I will say."

Women's basketball - NJCAA DIVISION II REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL

No. 4 Kirkwood 87, Southwestern 49

SOUTHWESTERN (49): C'Anne Hunter 2-9 0-0 4, Kierra Brice 0-4 4-4 4, Madelyn Moya 1-5 3-4 5, Vanessa Romo 2-10 0-0 5, Tina Lair-Van Meter 6-11 1-1 13, Remie Haynes 1-4 1-2 3, Kayela Willis 2-5 2-2 7, Jasmine Aviles 0-2 2-2 2, Simone Jordan 3-8 0-1 6, Totals 17-58 13-16 49.

KIRKWOOD (87): Paige Bradford 6-8 2-2 14, Mackenzie Jenkins 5-7 0-0 10, Ju Gaston 2-4 0-0 4, Anasha Hurst 5-9 0-0 10, Haley Mullinnix 5-10 0-0 14, Amara Lipsey 3-7 2-2 11, Jheda Kennedy 0-5 0-0 0, Johanna Myers 0-2 1-2 1, Natalie Tomaszewski 3-7 0-0 7, Leah Robinson 2-3 5-6 10, Brianna Mensen 2-7 2-2 6, Totals 33-69 12-14 87.

Southwestern 5 6 21 17—49

Kirkwood 26 21 24 16—87

Halftime — Kirkwood 47-11. Three-point goals — Southwestern 2-16 (Willis 1-2, Romo 1-6, Brice 0-1, Haynes 0-1, Hunter 0-1, Lair-Van Meter 0-2, Moya 0-3), Kirkwood 9-28 (Mullinnix 4-7, Lipsey 3-7, Robinson 1-1, Tomaszewski 1-2, Gaston 0-1, Hurst 0-2, Myers 0-2, Kennedy 0-3, Mensen 0-3). Rebounds — Southwestern 27 (Lair-Van Meter 8), Kirkwood 42 (Jenkins 11). Assists —Southwestern 8 (Haynes 4), Kirkwood 22 (Jenkins 6). Turnovers — Southwestern 21, Kirkwood 16. Total fouls — Southwestern 11, Kirkwood 15. Fouled out — None.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com