Harrison’s Pacheco returns to D1 women’s basketball, commits to Marshall

Adiana Pacheco acknowledges that committing to continue her playing career at Marshall represents a leaving of her comfort zone since it will be her first time leaving the Northeast.

But for Pacheco, who lives in Harrison and was also a North Arlington resident in her younger years, the return to Division 1 basketball is the culmination of a series of challenges after transferring from Niagara two years ago.

“I’ve definitely been taking myself out of my comfort zone quite a few times,” said Pacheco, a 6-foot-1 forward who played the last two seasons at CCBC Essex, a junior college in Baltimore. “I had to adjust going from Niagara University out of high school and then transition to JuCo. I’m going to say this is a big, humbling experience for sure. In JuCo, you have to work yourself from the ground up and that’s what I really needed.”

Pacheco, who committed on May 24, chose Marshall over offers from Delaware State, Quinnipiac and Coppin State. A Redshirt Junior, Pacheco will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

“It was just something about Marshall,” Pacheco said. “They had a different want for me and they were really trying to push me and that was something I was looking for, somewhere just to get out of my comfort zone.

“Marshall, the women’s basketball team, has a great name for itself. They won their conference (Sun Belt) last year, so they already have something special here. I just want to continue to be a part of that, especially with this new coaching staff.”

Playing for one of the country’s top Division II Junior Colleges, Pacheco averaged 5.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for the Knights this past season. A year earlier, she averaged 3.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game before suffering a season-ending ankle injury as CCBC Essex went 37-1 and won the NJCAA DII National Championship.

Most importantly for Pacheco, it was at CCBC Essex where she rediscovered her love for basketball.

“At Niagara, I lost myself,” Pacheco said. “I was away from home and it was a lot of adjusting to do out of high school.

“At JuCo, you have to really think about your reason why you play basketball. Why do you wake up every morning to go to that 6 a.m. workout or go put extra shots up. You have to think about why and it all came down to my family. I have three younger siblings (ages 18, 11 and less than a year old) and I’d rather be their role model so I had to push myself no matter how I felt or what I was going through. Being in JuCo, it created my love to fight for basketball again.”

Pacheco was born in New York and grew up in Newark before moving to North Arlington as a fifth grader. She attended and played at North Arlington Middle School, but moved to live with her father in Harrison before high school.

Pacheco attended Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City and was one of Hudson County’s top forwards. As a senior, Pacheco averaged 10.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the Covid-shortened 2020-21 season. Pacheco, who played on the Hawks’ county championship team in 2019 as a sophomore, averaged 9.0 points and 8.4 rebounds her junior season.

Following her senior season, Pacheco committed to play at Niagara, but never played a game with the program before transferring.

“I really believe that everything happens for a reason. I’m a strong believer of that,” Pacheco said. “I feel like everything is on God’s time, not my time. I wanted to play at this Division 1 school, I wanted to be at my time, but it wasn’t my time. It was always God’s time

“The biggest thing was, for me, being patient and controlling the things that I can control. That was something I really had to learn. I had a lot of maturing to do out of high school and to play at this level, you have to be really mature and you have to have a strong mindset.”

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (nj.com, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)