No. 6 Walters State Lady Senators looking for another trip to TCCAA finals
LYNCHBURG — The sixth ranked Walters State Lady Senators have already sewn up their 10th trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in program history, but this team wants more.
The top-seeded Lady Senators (27-1) want another TCCAA-NJCAA Region VII Tournament title, and they will play for a spot in the championship game this afternoon when they face fifth-seeded Chattanooga State (14-11) in the semifinals. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. in side Copperweld Arena at Motlow State.
Walters State won both matchups with the Lady Tigers this season, winning both by an average of 31 points. Freshman Donnesha Shuler had the hot hand in both games, leading the Lady Senators with 14 points and 11 rebounds in a 77-52 road victory before tossing in 17 points in a 74-37 home win in the final home game.
Walters State controlled the boards in both games, holding a 57-29 advantage in the opening game before winning the battle on the glass, 50-33, in the second game.
Chattanooga State fared better on the boards in their opening game of the tournament Wednesday when they got 15 boards from Sierra Sales and 11 from Stevonna Scott in a 68-62 win over fourth-seeded Cleveland State.
Scott also tallied 21 points in the win, while Sales added 12 and Khamiyah Crawford gunned in 19 points, including five 3-pointers.
Lady Senators coach Dave Kragel knows his team will have their hands full with Chattanooga State.
“They have a really good basketball team, and you don’t make it to this point in the tournament without having a talented team,” Kragel said. “Jay (Price) has done a great job with them, and he knows how to win at this point after making the national tournament with the women and men both two years ago. He will have them ready to play.”
Chattanooga State defeated Walters State in the championship game two years ago, and since that loss, the Lady Senators have won 55 of their last 60 ball games, including 27 of 28 this year with a roster filled with freshmen.
“Our younger players have really bought into what we are trying to teach them, and they have followed the example that sophomores Aisjah Roan and Caprisha Rogers have set for them,” Kragel said. “Aisjah and Caprisha both have been to the national tournament and know how you have to play to win there. They have done a good job of setting an example for the younger players.”
Despite having a trip to the national tournament in their possession already, Kragel and the Lady Senators know a region title will go a long way towards helping them secure a first round bye at the revamped event in Salina, Kan.
Getting the first round bye would allow them to sit and watch their first opponent play while they get an extra day of rest to prepare.
“That first round bye would be nice, and we know we have to win this tournament to get it,” Kragel said. “This is our first order of business. I want the region title. The kids want it too. That’s our main objective right now.”
-From Staff Reports