Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 22, 2013

NJCAA WOMEN'S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Final Four Friday arrives in Salina

Benny Rogers/TVCC Sports Information
The Athens Review

SALINA, Kan. — It's Final Four Friday.

The stakes will be high tonight when the semifinals of the 2013 NJCAA Women's National Basketball Tournament unfold at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan. First up at 6 p.m. will the Lady Cardinals against Gulf Coast. At 8 p.m., Central Arizona and Hutchinson take to the floor.

The Lady Cardinals (34-1) won their way into a 10th national semifinal with a 90-69 win against Blinn in the fourth meeting between the two this season. The Lady Cardinals have never lost in the semifinals. They are 9-0.

Gulf Coast (29-4) advanced to the game with a 72-61 win against Shelton State.

On the other side of the bracket, Central Arizona was an 84-67 winner against Chipola and Hutchinson nabbed a narrow 73-71 win against Northwest Florida.

By the way, the top seeds in the tournament, now a 24-team field and single-elimination format, held. The Lady Cardinals are the No. 1 seed. Central Arizona is No. 2, Hutchinson is No. 3 and Gulf Coast is No. 4.

The Lady Cardinals have big-game history with all three other teams in the Final Four. In fact, their last three national championships have been against Central Arizona (1999), Gulf Coast (2004) and Hutchinson (2012).

Tonight's winners will square off in the championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. The losers in the semifinal games will also play Saturday, battling for third place at 5 p.m.

Shannon Smith had a huge game for the Lady Cardinals in Thursday afternoon's win against Blinn. She poured in 31 points, hitting 7 of 10 three-point attempts, to lead three players in double figures. Shlonte' Allen had 17 and Victoria Wells 10. Wells also grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds.

If you're a Lady Cardinal fan and will be attending tonight's game, the Lady Cardinals are requesting you wear black.

You can watch tonight's semifinals online at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com. Also, for audio only, you can hear the games at www.KSAL.com.

It’s 30 and cloudy in Salina this morning. There was a light dusting of snow overnight. The high is expected to reach 49 today. The area has been placed under a Winter Storm Watch for Saturday morning through Sunday. The high Saturday is expected to reach 37 with the possibility of snow, ranging from 1-3 inches. Snow showers are expected to continue Sunday morning.

The Lady Cardinals definitely felt the positive thoughts and vibes sent their way from home Thursday against Blinn. More today, please.