One to go. That’s where the countdown is as Walters State’s Lady Senators seek to give Coach Dave Kragel his 1,000th victory.
Number 999 didn’t come as they normally do as Kragel wasn’t even present when the Lady Senators romped past Southwest Tennessee, 74-48, Saturday afternoon at ‘Z’ Buda Gymnasium.
Kragel was out of state due to the death of his mother earlier in the week and missed the second game of his career. Longtime assistant Jasmin Coleman stepped in to guide the team and was grateful to help.
“It’s been a tough week,” said Coleman. “We worked hard all week to get ready for Southwest and the girls went out there and did a good job today.”
She added, “It was important for us to keep our conference winning streaks going for Coach Kragel. All of our hearts were heavy for him in his loss, and the girls wanted to come out and play the way they knew he would expect them to if he were here.
“We wanted to focus on doing the things we do well and I thought we did that,” said Coleman who also coached a victory over Catawba Valley a couple of seasons ago.
Kragel will be back today and will have a chance to become the first women’s coach in National Junior College Athletic Association play to ever reach the 1,000 win plateau as the Lady Senators travel to Roane State on Wednesday.
Paris Mullins led a balanced Walters State attack with 19 points and finished with a double-double after raking off a dozen rebounds. She scored 11 in the first quarter when the Lady Senators took control of the game.
Former Morristown West standout Blayre Shultz and Haley Comer added 11 points each and Victoria Bady chipped in 10. Jamya Rogers barely missed a double-double herself as she scored nine points and racked up 13 rebounds.
It was the 23rd straight Tennessee Community College Athletic Association win for Walters State, which has lost just once in the last 172 conference games.
The Lady Senators have six conference wins this season and are now 10-7 overall. Southwest slipped to 9-6 for the season and 3-4 in the league.
Daisha Seltzer led the Lady Saluqis with 18 points.
Coleman said Mullins has been battling some sickness. “I didn’t really know how much we would get out of her early on today, but she knows how important conference games are to us and she played really hard for us.”
The Lady Senators shot 44.1 percent by making 30 of 68. They were 9 of 20 behind the arc with Shultz and Bady knocking down three each and Comer two.
Southwest finished 19-57 for 33.3 percent and was 3-19 from long range.
Walters State dominated the backboards behind Rogers and Mullins.
The Lady Senators trailed only once in the game. After falling behind 6-2, the Lady Saluqis scored five straight for their only lead.
Comer made two of three free throws to put Walters State ahead for good with 5:09 left in the first. Mullins then had a pair of field goals with Rogers and Comer adding one each for a 19-7 lead at the first rest stop.
Rogers had a bucket and Shultz bombed in a three as the lead grew to 24-8 early in the second. The visitors scored five straight before the Lady Senators closed the half on a 6-2 run to lead 30-15 at intermission.
Southwest scored the first two baskets of the third stanza, but the Lady Senators ran off 13 consecutive points and it was a blowout the rest of the way. Bady highlighted the run with a pair of treys.
It was 52-32 at the final break and the Lady Senators led by as many as 29 midway of the fourth quarter.