LUBBOCK, Kan. – Day one of the NJCAA women’s national tournament is in the books and the Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team is anxious to get on the court for their first-round game.
The Cougars and Tallahassee Community College will do battle Tuesday at 11 a.m. MST with the winner advancing into a contest Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Wabash Valley.
Anastacia Johnson said practicing for three days in Lubbock and then watching games on Monday said they have been ready to play since they arrived Saturdayafternoon.
“The nerves won’t leave until after the first 10 minutes of the game,” the sophomore said. “We have been ready to paly since we got here on Saturday.”
Tallahassee and WNCC each earned at-large bids into the tournament and they will be the last first-round game of the tournament. It should be match-up of two teams that love defense. Tallahassee earned the 11th seed with a 24-6 record while the Cougars are the 22nd seed with a 29-4 record.
Johnson said they are ready.
“We have prepared for nationals since the beginning of the season,” she said. “We are excited to play and hopefully we make a run.”
Both teams lost in their regional tournament. Tallahassee lost in the semi-finals to Eastern Florida State College 68-57. In that game the Lady Eagles made just four 3-pointers and led by Nakiah Block with 15 points and two treys.
WNCC fell in the Region IX championship game to Casper College 85-75 on March 10 and earned the at-large bid on March 12.
A big reason for the at-large bit is their record against tough competition that included wins against ranked teams such as Casper, Iowa Western, and Johnson County.
“We had a very tough schedule to start off the season and all of our hard work has paid off,” We played several good teams and beat high ranked teams such as Casper, Iowa Western and Johnson County. That helped get us into the tournament.”
Johnson said they have watched film on Tallahassee and know what they like to do.
“We know they are very physical and rebound every time,” she said. “They press a lot as well. We just need to play as one and take care of the ball, remain calm, and stick together through adversity.”
Tallahassee is 24-6 on the season and went 15-0 to start the season before losing to Gulf Coast 81-64. Tallahassee averages 84.8 points a game, shoots 44.5 from the field and 31.9 from beyond the arc.
WNCC went 29-6 that included a 14-game win streak. WNCC averages 84.2 points a game and shoots 45.8 percent from the field and 32 percent from the 3-point arc.
WNCC has five players averaging in double figures, led by freshman Merle Wiehl at 16.9 points followed by Melisa Kadic at 14.6. Karli Seay is averaging 13.7 points, Jaleesa Avery at 11.2, and Giovanna Silva at 10 points.
Kadic has buried 77 treys on the season followed by 36 from Wiehl, 27 from Olivia Wiberg, and 25 from Seay.
Talahassee is led in scoring by Japonica James at 17.7 points followed by Black with 13.8 points and Juliunn Redmond at nine points.
This is WNCC’s second straight trip to the the national tournament and fourth in the last six years.
This Tallahassee’s fourth straight year at the national tournament. The previous three trips the Lady Eagles lost their first game.
Johnson said the seven sophomores who were here a year ago, now what they need to do on the big stage.
“I love this feeling,” Johnson said. “This is like a once in a lifetime experience. Being able to go back to back feels like we lead the team with high expectations.”
First-round games on Monday saw Odessa College top Harford 85-70, ASA Brooklyn topped Salt Lake Community College 60-59 with a basket with three seconds left to play, San Jac-North topping Hutchinson 62-51, South Georgia Tech topping Casper College in overtime 77-65, Trinity Valley taking care of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 51-38, and Walters State rolling by North Dakota State College of Science 80-43.