by DOMINICK PUENTE//Editorial Assistant
The South Plains College women’s basketball team gained a national tournament bid after falling short of a NJCAA Region V Tournament championship.
After finishing the regular season with a string of victories in conference play, the Lady Texans entered the regional tournament ranked as the No. 2 seed from the Western Junior College Athletic Conference.
The Region V tournament was held from March 8- March 11 at Frenship High School in Wolfforth.
The Lady Texans advanced to the second round of the regional tournament, but fell short after losing a nail-biter to Collin County Community College, 77-70, on March 10.
Through a tough first half for SPC, the Lady Texans managed to create offensive opportunities, getting the ball to starting sophomore forward Yanina Inkina.
After the end of the third quarter, the Lady Texans trailed Collin County, 62-45. However, the Lady Texans continued to put pressure on offensively and found open shots for some well needed points.
SPC rallied in the fourth quarter, scoring 25 points, but Collin County managed to hold off the late charge by the Lady Texans.
In the first half, the Lady Texans took a 15-13 lead in the first quarter. Facing foul trouble early, SPC gave up the lead after only putting up 13 points offensively and allowing 24 points.
Inkina led the Lady Texans offensively with 22 points to keep SPC within arm’s reach of a last-second win.
Sophomore guard Jasauen Beard also found offensive success, finishing the game with 15 points.
Sophomore guard Elizabeth Cera was able to drop in 10 points against an overwhelming Collin County defense.
In the opening round of the regional tournament, the Lady Texans defeated Ranger College, 61-46, on March 8.
The Lady Texans began the game with a slow start defensively in the first quarter, only putting up six points, and trailing Ranger College 8-6 going into the second quarter.
As the game progressed into the second quarter, the Lady Texans began to control both sides of the court offensively and defensively throughout the rest of the game.
SPC’s defense stalled the Lady Ranger offense, allowing only eight points in the second quarter.
Offensively, the Lady Texans found success with screens and a few open jump shots to gain momentum.
The Lady Texans finished the second quarter with 21 points and a 27-16 lead going into halftime.
SPC continued to display their skill throughout the second half against the Lady Rangers, putting up 18 points in the third quarter and 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Although, the Lady Rangers struggled to produce points in the first half, Ranger College gained ground offensively, scoring 15 points in the third quarter.
With a 45-31 lead at the end of the third quarter, SPC’s defense limited Ranger’s offensive production, forcing late shots and allowing no open looks to finish out the game.
The Lady Texans held Ranger College to 15 points in the fourth quarter, ensuring the victory.
Sophomore guard Brittany Smith led the Lady Texans with 18 points in the victory against Ranger College.
Cera finished with 14 points for SPC, while Beard and Inkina each put up eight points.
It is the first time in 15 years that the Lady Texans have advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament, which was held March 20 – March 25 at the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University. Results were not available at press time.
[Photo by DOMINICK PUENTE/PLAINSMAN PRESS]