Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 11, 2013

Defending national champions

No. 1-ranked TVCC Lady Cardinals to play in Kansas March 18-23

Joe Elerson
The Athens Review

Athens — TYLER — The No. 1-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals will return to Salina, Kan. March 18-23 as the defending national champions following a, 69-58, win over the Blinn Lady Buccaneers Saturday afternoon at University of Texas – Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.

This will be the Lady Cardinals’ sixth straight trip to the Bicentennial Center, and 18th in the school’s history.

TVCC comes into the tournament as the No. 1-seed overall.

They will face the winner of the Weatherford College-Northeast Community‚ÄąCollege (Neb.) contest on Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. in their opening round contest.

First-year coach Elena Lovato inherited a team that had no returning players on the team, and guided them to a 32-1 season. Their only loss came courtesy of a forfeit to Weatherford earlier this year.

The Lady Cards have not lost on the floor since the 2011 title game against North Idaho, and they have won 67 of their last 68 games, according to TVCC Sports Information Director Benny Rogers.

Lovato said it will be tough having a week off of competitive action, but it will help to get the team better in certain areas of their game.

“It is going to be good for us in many ways,” Lovato said. “We are going to get to work on things and I think the biggest thing is working on defense with limiting stops, and only allowing one shot.”

TVCC freshman Kyhonta Doughty said one of the areas the team needs to work on during this week is their transition offense, and getting back on defense.

“I think our transition needs to be better in the coming weeks,” Doughty said. “We need to communicate, and be able to box out better, and staying focused on that. We want to go in and have fun, and play the game that we know how to play next week.”

Lovato said she is expecting to see big things from Doughty off the bench in the national tournament next week.

“I think Kyhonta Doughty brings a toughness to her. She is kind of like our enforcer on the inside, and on the baseline,” Lovato said. “She is going to fight and work on the defensive principles that we have instilled in her, and the biggest thing with her is her motor.”

Following her tournament MVP and sharing the conference Most Valuable Player award with Blinn’s Audrisa Harrison, TVCC freshman Shlonte’ Allen said this week will help to build the team up even stronger, in hopes of bringing back their seventh national title and back-to-back titles.

“It feels so good for me to be a freshman and to get the MVP,” Allen said. “We are going to be a better team than we have been. We are going to play harder, be more aggressive, and we are going to knock down and shoot good shots.”

Lovato said she is lucky to have Allen on the team.

“When I got the job here at TVCC, everybody was telling me that I need to get Shlonte’, and it was a no-brainer,” Lovato said. “From the first day we signed her up until today, I feel like I am fortunate to have her on the team.”