TVCC Sports Notes on the Road: Championship Saturday

(COURTESY PHOTO BENNY ROGERS/TVCC)
(COURTESY PHOTO BENNY ROGERS/TVCC)

By Benny Rogers/TVCC Sports Information

And then there were two.

The two most successful programs in the history of NJCAA women’s basketball square off in the national championship game tonight. The Lady Cardinals (35-1) and Central Arizona (32-1) tangle in the title game for a third time in a 7 p.m. tipoff at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, KS.

The Lady Cardinals, appearing in the title game for a third straight year and 10th overall, have won six national championships. Central Arizona has won four titles and is making its eighth title game appearance.

The two teams met in back-to-back national title games in 1998 (the first year the tournament was in Salina) and 1999. Central Arizona won the first one, denying the Lady Cardinals an unbeaten season. The Lady Cardinals got even the next year to cap a perfect season.

The Lady Cardinals won their titles in ’94, ’96, 97, ’99, ’04 and ’12. Central Arizona claimed championships in ’89, ’98, ’05 and ’09.

The Lady Cardinals suffered title game losses in ’95, ’98 and ’11. Central Arizona lost in the finals in ’99, ’07 and ’08.

Tonight’s game will not only be a rematch of the title games in 1998 and ’99, but also of a meeting earlier this season at the WNIT Tournament in Midland. The Lady Cardinals handed Central Arizona its only loss, 66-63.

The Lady Cardinals enter the title game riding a 24-game winning streak. The lone loss was a forfeit to Weatherford in December. Central Arizona has won 28 in a row.

The Lady Cardinals advanced to the title game with a 75-71 win against Gulf Coast in the semifinals. The win ran their record in national semifinals to 10-0.

Shannon Smith, who led the Lady Cardinals with 23 points, hit two free throws with 4.5 seconds left after Krystle Henderson came up with a game-saving steal under the Gulf Coast goal. Her pass to Smith resulted in Gulf Coast having to foul.

Also scoring in double figures were Shlonte’ Allen with 19 and Adut Bulgak 11. Bulgak also grabbed 11 rebounds.

The score was tied 33-33 at the half.

Central Arizona moved into the title game with a 52-40 win against Hutchinson. Central Arizona raced out to a 23-0 lead and was up 30-10 at the half.

Hutchinson (35-2) and Gulf Coast (29-5) will meet in the third-place game at 5 p.m.

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

If you would like to follow the game on Twitter, follow Athens Review Sports at @AthensReviewSpo. Joe Elerson will be providing updates.

University of Texas head women’s basketball coach Karen Aston was in attendance at both semifinal games Friday.

It’s 34 with light snow in Salina this morning. Snow is expected to increase later in the day. The area is under a Winter Storm Warning with the possibility up to five inches of snow through noon Sunday.

It’s time to go all out all you Lady Cardinal fans back home. Make sure to wear red while you watch the title game online tonight. Also, keep those positive thoughts and vibes coming.

TVCC Sports Notes on the Road: Game Day vs. Blinn

weatherfordBy Benny Rogers, TVCC Sports Information

The Lady Cardinals had to beat Blinn twice during the regular season to win a 12th straight conference championship. They had to Blinn to win a sixth straight regional championship.

Now, to keep their hopes alive for a second straight national championship alive, they must again beat … you guessed it … Blinn.

The Lady Cardinals (33-1) are scheduled to take on Blinn (32-3) in quarterfinal action today at the 2013 NJCAA Women’s National Basketball Tournament at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan. Game time is 1 p.m.

At stake is a spot in the Final Four. The winner moves on to face the Gulf Coast-Shelton State winner in the semifinals Friday at 6 p.m.

The Lady Cardinals are 9-0 in national semifinal games in their previous 17 trips to the tournament. They are 6-3 in national title games.

The Lady Cardinals were an 89-72 winner against Blinn in Brenham. They won 94-88 in overtime in the rematch at Cardinal Gym. In the regional title game, the Lady Cardinals scored a 69-58 win.

Today’s game will not only be the fourth TVCC-Blinn game this season. It will be the third one in 19 days.

The Lady Cardinals and Blinn had the day off Tuesday.

In Tuesday’s games, it was: Central Arizona 82, Crowder 57; Chipola 66, Southern Idaho 57; Hutchinson 77, ASA 55 and Northwest Florida 65, Walters State 60.

Quarterfinal action scheduled after the TVCC-Blinn game finds Gulf Coast vs. Shelton State, Central Arizona vs. Chipola and Hutchinson vs. Northwest Florida.

In case you’re wondering how hosting the tournament impacts Salina financially, Chamber of Commerce officials said Tuesday the event brings up to $650,000 annually to the local economy.

Salina is located in north-central Kansas. The population is 47,707.

Notable individuals who were born in and/or have lived in Salina include Kurt Budke, Marlin Fitzwater, Paul Harvey, Gene Mauch, Steven Hawley and Terence Newman.

The 1980 teen comedy film “Up The Academy” was filmed entirely in Salina.

All Lady Cardinal tournament games will be available for viewing online at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com. In fact, all tournament games will be webcast. Also, for audio only, you can hear the games at www.KSAL.com.

It’s 35 and cloudy in Salina this morning. The high is expected to reach 46 today. There is a 30 percent chance of morning showers. Friday, the high is predicted to be 51 with partly cloudy conditions. Saturday’s forecast is calling for snow with a high of 38.

Today would be a good day to send your positive thoughts and vibes in the directions of the Lady Cardinals.

Lady Cardinals have a little extra motivation going for them

Coach Elena Lovato
Coach Elena Lovato

By mvhannigan

If the Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals’ first win in the NJCAA national tournament Tuesday seemed a little too close for comfort, it could be because the ladies have been making things look so easy the past month.

The Lady Cardinals fell behind by double digits early before coming back to beat Weatherford yesterday, 75-70, and the difference was one possession for much of the last minute of play. It wasn’t an easy win.

But this is for a national championship and wins aren’t going to come easy.

Head Coach Elena Lovato says her team is ready for the challenge.

“We know we didn’t play great in game one,” she told me in a Facebook conversation. “Let’s chalk that up to experience and move on to the next game. I know for a fact this crew is not satisfied with just being here.”

Lovato said the team also has a little extra motivation going for it.

“We want to leave a legacy in Athens because Athens has been so good to us,” she said.

The coach said local support is reaching the team all the way in Kansas.

“It is amazing how much love and support this group of girls and I feel,” she said. “We received a few text messages and tweets from fellow coaches, athletes, and people in the community who watched the game online together.”

TVCC fans also travel well and are a force themselves in Kansas.

“The atmosphere in that gym yesterday was great,” Lovato said. “We were blessed to have a large number of Lady Card diehards that made the trip to Salina this year. Also, its pretty awesome that we have an administration that supports our athletic department so much. The cheerleaders and band were amazing.”

Next up for the Lady Cards is Blinn 1 p.m. tomorrow. This will be the fourth time the two teams have played this season, with TVCC winning all three previous meetings.

“We are going to leave it on the floor each and every night not just for each other, the school, the tradition, but for the fans – the people who have invested so much interest, care and love for this program,” Lovato said.

TVCC Sports Notes on the Road: Lady Cards have the day off

By Benny Rogers, TVCC Sports Information

After surviving a scare in their opening game at the 2013 NJCAA Women’s National Basketball Tournament, the Lady Cardinals have a day off today. They’ll use it to begin preparing for a fourth meeting this season with Blinn College in the quarterfinals Thursday at 1 p.m.

The Lady Cardinals (33-1), the tournament’s top seed and defending national champion, fell behind 20-6 to 16th-seeded Weatherford in the opening minutes Tuesday afternoon before rallying for a 75-70 win. It improved their season record to 33-1 and closed Weatherford’s season at 25-6. The Lady Cardinals were a 93-69 winner against Weatherford back in November.

Shannon Smith pumped in 20 points to lead the Lady Cardinals. Krystle Henderson added 13 and Adut Bulgak and Roddricka Patton netted 10 each. Shlonte’ Allen finished with nine.

Bulgak had a big game on the boards, grabbing 15 rebounds.

The Lady Cardinals hit 9 of 26 three-point attempts.

Blinn (32-3), the tournament’s No. 9 seed, advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup against the Lady Cardinals with a 79-72 win versus No. 8 seed Darton State.

As the 24-team, single-elimination tournament (for the first time), moves into its third day and the non-Texas side of the bracket, four teams will play their first games. Today’s games are Central Arizona vs. Crowder, 1 p.m.; Southern Idaho vs. Chipola, 3 p.m.; Hutchinson vs. ASA, 5 p.m.; Walters State vs. Northwest Florida, 7 p.m.

Here are the seeds of the teams remaining in the tournament: TVCC (1), Central Arizona (2), Hutchinson (3), Gulf Coast (4), Shelton State (5), Walters State (6), Southern Idaho (7), Blinn (9), Chipola (10), Northwest Florida (11), Crowder (15), and ASA (19). Central Arizona, Hutchinson, Shelton State and Walters State have yet to play a game.

In Tuesday’s other games, it was: ASA 74, Western Nebraska 68; Northwest Florida 57, Itawamba 46; Gulf Coast 62, Midland 57; and Shelton State 72, Williston State 57.

Tuesday’s win against Weatherford ran the Lady Cardinals’ national tournament record to 50-16.

Like they always do, Cardinal cheerleaders and the Cardinal Regiment Pep Band livened up the Bicentennial Center. With their presence and peformances, comments along press row were how much it had given the event a big-time feel.

Texas A&M head women’s basketball coach Gary Blair was in attendance at Tuesday’s games, as was Oklahoma State head women’s coach Jim Littell. Word is that Texas head women’s basketball coach Karen Aston will also be making an appearance at the event.

Also on hand for the Lady Cardinals’ game were John and Mary Margaret Budke, the parents of Kurt Budke, the former Lady Cardinal, Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma State coach, who was killed in a plane crash in November of 2011. The Budkes are regulars at the tournament, which has been played in their hometown of Salina since 1998.

All Lady Cardinal tournament games will be available for viewing online at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com. In fact, all tournament games will be webcast. Also, for audio only, you can hear the games at www.KSAL.com.

You can also keep up with the Lady Cardinals at the tournament in the Athens Daily Review. Joe Elerson is in Salina for the Review. Check it out online at www.athensreview.com.

Also, follow updates on the Lady Cardinals on Twitter at @TVCCsports.

It’s 25 and clear in Salina this morning. The high is expected to reach 52 today, which will make it the warmest day the rest of the week. Thursday’s high is forecast to be 48 with a 30 percent chance of rain. Rain/snow shower are still in the forecast for Friday and Saturday with highs in the upper 30s.

To all our family and friends back home, resume breathing. The Lady Cardinals are alive and well.

TVCC Sports Notes on the Road: Lady Cards hit the floor today

TVCC Lady Cardinals
TVCC Lady Cardinals

By Benny Rogers/TVCC Sports Information

With the first day of the 2013 NJCAA Women’s National Basketball Tournament in the books, all eyes will be on the Lady Cardinals today as they take to the floor of the Bicentennial Center for the first time.

The No. 1-seeded Lady Cardinals (32-1) are scheduled to take on Weatherford College (25-5) at 2 p.m. Weatherford, the tournament’s 16th seed, scored a 72-68 win over Northeast Nebraska in Monday’s opening round.

Today’s game will be the second meeting between Lady Cardinals and Weatherford this season. Back in November at Cardinal Gym, the Lady Cardinals were a 93-69 winner. Just over a week later, the Lady Cardinals had to forfeit the rematch in Weatherford due to a lack of healthy eligible players. The forfeit represents the lone blemish on the Lady Cardinals’ season ledger.

In Monday’s other games in the opening round, it was: Blinn 72, Kaskaskia 63; Midland 67, Volunteer State 59; Williston 67, North Idaho 63; Crowder 69, Redlands 64 and Chipola 78, Southwestern Illinois 62. The Williston-North Idaho game produced the only upset, a 21 seed over a 12 seed.

Monday was a good day for Texas teams (women’s and men’s) on the big stage. Here in Salina, Weatherford, Blinn and Midland all won. In Hutchinson (about 50 miles southwest of Salina), the Lee and Kilgore men’s teams won. That’s 5-0, if you’re keeping score.

The Lady Cardinals will be seeking a milestone national tournament win today. A win against Weatherford would represent the college’s 50th national tournament win. In 17 previous national tournament appearances, the Lady Cardinals have compiled a 49-16 record, which, of course, includes six national championships.

The Lady Cardinal-Weatherford winner advances to the quarterfinals to face the Darton State-Blinn winner at 1 p.m. Thursday. Darton State, the No. 8 seed with a 30-3 record, and Blinn (31-3), the No. 9 seed, are scheduled to square off today at 4:30 p.m.

Cardinal cheerleaders and the Cardinal Regiment Pep Band arrived Monday and will be on hand for today’s game. Both groups are always a fan favorite at the Bicentennial Center and give the event an atmospheric boost.

The Lady Cardinals bring a 21-game winning streak into today’s game. The have won 68 of their last 69 games. On the court, they have won 68 straight.

Among those with TVCC ties in attendance Monday were Danny Hughes, a former men’s basketball player and coach and a member of the Cardinal Hall of Fame, Courtney Simmons, a former Lady Cardinal player and coach, and Brandon Taylor, a former manager for the athletic program. Hughes is now at SMU as an assistant coach. Simmons is now at Louisiana Tech as an assistant coach. Taylor is now at Eastern Oklahoma State as an assistant coach.

All Lady Cardinal tournament games will be available for viewing online at www.njcaatv.ihigh.com. In fact, all tournament games will be webcast. Also, for audio only, you can hear the games at www.KSAL.com.

It’s 34 and clear in Salina this morning. Like yesterday, today’s high is expected to reach 58. Tomorrow is expected to be the last nice day of the week with a high of 52. Starting Thursday, there is a chance of snow/rain showers into the weekend.

Send all your positive vibes and thoughts the Lady Cardinals’ way today.