LUBBOCK BOUND: Lady Cards qualify for 10th straight national tournament

LUBBOCK BOUND: Lady Cards qualify for 10th straight national tournament

The No. 12-ranked Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals are headed back to the national tournament following a 61-39 victory over Kilgore in the regional title game.

"It is a good feeling to hold a team down that is averaging nearly 70 points per game," TVCC coach Gerald Ewing said. "The girl's came out with a mindset that you have to have a focus on your scouting report. At this time of the year, that is what it is all about. We have played a three times and there is nothing different they do in terms of personnel."

Trinity Valley is 27-5 overall and are now 22-6 in regional title games. They have qualified for their 22nd trip to the regional tournament and 10th straight trip.

"It is Trinity Valley and nothing about what I have done," Ewing said. "This is about the people before me with coach Joe Curl, coach Kurt Budke, Michael and Kenya Landers and Elena Lovato. They set the standards and we are trying to follow suit."

The national tournament is March 20-25 from the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University. The seedings will be announced Monday at 3:30 p.m.

"I am hoping we can get a top five or six seed in the tournament. We had two forfeits on our record and I hope they don't hold that against us," Ewing said. "They were two home games and we have not lost at home since 2009.

"Our other losses were to Chipola, who was No. 3 at the time and to Odessa which was ranked No. 1 most of the year. We lost to Panola and they played well. At the end of the day, I hope they don't hold the forfeits against us."

TVCC sophomore Naomi Davenport was named as the Region XIV tournament Most Valuable Player. She was also named to the All Tournament team along with Malaysia McHenry and Shakeela Fowler.

"I give credit to God and my teammates," Davenport said. "I really thank my teammates and they are the real MVP's. Without them, I would not be able to get the ball."

Ewing said to have the contributions from Davenport, Fowler and McHenry was big during the tournament.

"Naomi is an amazing player when she wants to be," Ewing said. "Shakeela is as tough as you are going to get and plays with the heart of a seven footer. Malaysia had a great tournament and wanted the ball. She is doing everything that I have asked her to do."

Davenport finished the title game with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks. Fowler had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals and McHenry had eight points, 12 rebounds and two steals.

The turning point in the game came in the third quarter as Trinity Valley went on an 8-0 run at the six minute mark.

The Lady Cardinals had a 36-33 lead at that point in the game after a basket by Kilgore's Da'Jah Thompson. The Lady Cardinals then went on an 8-0 run to extend the lead to 40-33 on a layup by Lyons.

"I think the third quarter when we jumped out and got us some quick baskets, I saw the energy coming back," Ewing said. "I think we did a great job defensively with some quick stops and some easy looks. We have to get better at finishing as far as offensively."

The lead was 30-22 in the first half after a back and forth affair between the two teams. Davenport said during the halftime chat, the Lady Cardinals talked about playing better on the defensive end.

"We talked about not being worried about the offense," Davenport said. "It all starts on defense and blocking the scout. We needed to know what the personnel from the last two games and keeping putting it on the floor and turning our defense into offense."

The top players for Kilgore (21-11 overall) in Lyrik Williams and Richelle Velez were players Ewing said were the main focus heading into the game. Jade Thornton did not play due to an injury.

"Basically, I was wondering what happened with Jade Thornton and Lyrik Williams is a great player," Ewing said. "It is a situation where unfortunately Thornton was injured. Our main focus was on Williams and trying to lock her down and not let her get going. Richelle Velez is another player who balls out so we did not want to give her any clean, good looks"

Williams scored eight points to go with two blocks and five rebounds. Velez was held to eight points with two steals, one block and three assist for Kilgore.

The Lady Cardinals had seven points from Dominique Mills off of the bench. Rainey Kuykendall had six points, and Jordan Alexander had four points.

Trinity Valley shot 40 percent from the field on 27 of 67 shooting, while Kilgore was 15 of 56 for 28 percent.

TVCC beat Kilgore 74-55 in the regular season finale at Trinity Valley on March 4. This was the first time for the regional title game since 2008-09 against Trinity Valley. Trinity Valley won by a score of 58-46 at the University of Texas at Tyler.

(Story courtesy Joe Elerson/Athens Daily Review)