SALINA, Kan. — Championship caliber teams find ways to win in big situations.
For the No. 1 ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals, Friday night’s national semifinal contest against No. 4 seed Gulf Coast, a key stop by sophomore Krystle Henderson preserved a, 75-71, win to send them into the finals Saturday night against Central Arizona. Central Arizona defeated Hutchinson, 52-40, in the other semifinal game at the Bicentennial Center.
“We were looking for Krystle to protect the basket and that was a big stop for her in the game,” First year coach Elena Lovato said. “It was a great hustle play and my team is not going to back down.”
Gulf Coast was looking to tie the game at, 73-73, with 40 seconds remaining as Necole Sterling was off to the races on a fastbreak until Henderson noticed the two-on-one fast break and knocked the ball away to preserve the win.
“I figured if we did not get a score, we had the ball coming in out of bounds and if we did not get that score then we had to play lock down defense,” Henderson said. “When I saw the 2-on-1, I knew I had to take the ball and I took it.”
Gulf Coast head coach Vernette Skeete said her team did not run the play right and the team did not have the toughness they needed to beat the Lady Cardinals.
“We really did not run that play right and I was more frustrated with not making the layup that was wide open earlier in the game,” Skeete said. “We needed to be a little more tougher tonight.”
First-year coach Elena Lovato’s team is now 35-1 on the year. The Lady Cardinals are also a perfect 10-0 in national semifinal contest.
"It is definitely not going to be an easy road," Lovato said about reaching the national championship game. "I have a group of girls who will fight until the buzzer I tell you what."