Athens Review, Athens, Texas

March 20, 2013

NJCAA WOMEN'S NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Texas size thriller

Lady Cardinals win nailbiter over Weatherford, 75-70

Joe Elerson
The Athens Review

SALINA, Kan. — The No. 1 ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals faced a very determined Weatherford Lady Coyotes team in the second round of the NJCAA Women’s National Championship Tuesday afternoon at the Bicentennial Center.

The Lady Cardinals spent most of the game battling from behind but pulled out a, 75-70, win to advance to the quarterfinals.

First year coach Elena Lovato said Weatherford definitely improved from their 93-69 loss back in November during their first meeting.

“I thought they did a really good job of executing their game plan in the game tonight,” Lovato said. “He had a really good game plan and I think they were not aggressive on the offensive end.”

The Weatherford Lady Coyotes (25-6) pounded the ball inside on numerous trips against TVCC (33-1) as they outscored them 46-32 in the paint.

“We thought we could score in the paint since we have done it all year,” Weatherford coach Bob McKinley said.

The Lady Coyotes jumped out to a 20-6 lead in the opening four minutes of the contest following back-to-back three pointers from Victoria Wells to Krystle Henderson for the 6-3 lead.

TVCC then went scoreless for the next two minutes as Lady Coyotes Itiana Taylor and Bre Brooks scored nine points during the run.

TVCC found a way to battle back and cut the lead to, 27-25, on a jumper by Savannah Carter  with 8:15 remaining in the opening half.

The Lady Coyotes went on another run and extended the lead to, 35-29, on baskets by Cleyder Blanco and Brooks with 2:40 remaining.

“I thought a few of our players got lost in the hype and I thought they did a really good job of being physical with us,” Lovato said. “My kids did not believe me when I said that the officials would let us play.”

In the first half, the Lady Cardinals were led in scoring by Krystle Henderson with eight points, followed by Shannon Smith with six and Victoria Wells and Roddricka Patton with five points each.

Lovato said she was worried about the amount of points allowed in the paint and the fact they committed 10 of their 19 turnovers in the first half.

She said she thinks the hype of Trinity Valley being the No. 1 team in the nation and the No. 1 seed in the tournament may have gotten to them early in the game.

“I think being No. 1 and playing for a back-to-back national championship with no one on that team got to them,” Lovato said.

Trinity Valley found a way to tie the game up in the opening two minutes of the second half as Smith took advantage of a turnover and scored on a fast break layup for the 42-42 tie.

On their next possession, the Lady Cardinals picked up their first lead of the game as Patton drained a 3-pointer with 16:40 remaining off an assist from Henderson for a 45-42 lead.

Trinity Valley extended their lead to nine with 10:45 remaining as Patton found a wide open Smith for a 3-pointer.

Weatherford was able to end a 12-0 run by the Lady Cardinals as JohVanna Darrington nailed two free throws with 10:17 remaining in the game for a60-53 deficit.

Taylor continued her hot shooting for the remainder of the contest as she scored 11 of the Lady Coyotes final 17 points in the contest.

Trinity Valley finished the game shooting 26-of-72 from the field for 36.1 percent, while Weatherford shot 28-of-64 for 43.8 percent in the game.

Lovato said with the team giving up 46 points in the points, 41 rebounds and 19 turnovers, she has some areas that the team needs to work on before Thursday’s game against Blinn at 1 p.m.

TVCC was led in scoring by Smith with 20 points, while Henderson scored 13 points.

TVCC freshman Adut Bulgak finished with a double-double of 10 points and 15 rebounds, while Patton had 10 points and two rebounds.

Weatherford was led in scoring by Taylor with 20 points, while Clyder Blanco had 17 points and seven rebounds.

Brooks also scored in double figures with 13 points, four rebounds and four steals.

NOTES FROM SALINA:

• The opening day of the tournament saw three Texas teams pull out victories. Weatherford Community College, pulled out a tough win against Northeast CC (Neb.) in the opening game, 72-68. The Blinn College Buccaneers made their appearance in the second game of the tournament and pulled out a 72-63 win over Kaskaskia. The Buccaneers held an 18-point lead at the half. In the third game of the tournament, Midland College completed the Texas sweep by defeating Volunteer State, 57-49.

• Former TVCC men’s assistant coach Danny Hughes was in attendance for the opening day of the tournament. Hughes is the SMU assistant women's coach and is a member of the Cardinal Hall of Fame.

• The last time the Lady Cardinals qualified for the national tournament six straight years was the 1994-1999 seasons. The win was also the 50th tournament win for the Lady Cardinals in Salina.

• Prior to the game against Weatherford, Lovato was named the District L Coach of the Year for winning the Regional Tournament in Tyler over Blinn earlier this month.

• All of the tournament games can be found on www.cybersports.com.