TYLER — The No. 1-ranked TVCC Lady Cardinals would not be denied Saturday afternoon in a, 69-58, Region XIV Conference championship game against the No. 8-ranked Blinn Buccaneers at UT-Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.
The victory handed first-year Coach Elena Lovato’s Lady Cardinals (32-1) their sixth straight trip to the NJCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in Salina, Kan. and 18th overall. The Lady Cards are the defending national champions.
Blinn defeated Jacksonville 75-62 on Friday afternoon to reach the conference tournament finals for the first time since 2008. This was the third loss for Blinn against the Lady Cardinals this year with losses of 89-72 and a 94-88 loss in overtime in the regular season finale.
Saturday’s contest was the 20th time in the last 22 years TVCC has reached the regional tournament finals, and they were coming into the contest with 20 consecutive wins.
Lovato said after slow starts in their first two games of the tournament, she tried a different approach to get the team to focus more on the game.
“I was very proud of my girls in the first half but I think we lost our focus in the last eight minutes of the ballgame,” Lovato said. “I don’t know if it was the excitement of cutting down the nets or what it was but I feel like we had a six minute lapse at the end.”
Shlonte’ Allen — who was named MVP of the tournament and the co-MVP of the region following the game — looked to put Trinity Valley in the driver’s seat as she gave them a, 61-40, lead on one-of-two free throws with 6:40 remaining in the contest.
Blinn would not go down without a fight as they outscored TVCC, 18-8, the remainder of the game behind strong play from Fatima Adams and Jazzmin Parker. Parker finished the game with 21 points, while Adams added 20 points.