It wasn't the finish they would have preferred, but the Apache Ladies will take it anyway. They held off Blinn tonight 63-61 to win the Region XIV Women's Tournament Championship. It was a game of streaks. The fourth-seed Lady Buccaneers opened with a 9-0 run to take an early seven point lead. Second-seed TJC would storm back to lead 32-26 at halftime. Blinn would bounce back to grab a three point lead with less then six minutes to play in the game. Again, the Apache Ladies would respond. After a Chasity Shavers steal and Kristin Moore layup with 1:10 to play, TJC had a commanding 61-54 lead. But a lot can, and did happen in that final minute. Blinn was able to cut the lead to 62-61 with 7.8 seconds left. Yoshica Spears extended the lead to two with the first of two free throws, but missed the second, with Blinn getting the rebound. The Apache Ladies used some tenacious defense that caused Blinn guard Amira Ford to travel, giving TJC the ball, and the seeming win with two seconds to play. TJC decided to kill the clock by throwing the ball into the back court... but Blinn's Jessica Walker picked up the loose ball and got off a three pointer at the buzzer. The entire TJC crowd held it's breath as the shot clanged short off the rim, and the Apache Ladies were champs.
"We knew we were going to have to go in there and play the best basketball we could," said TJC head coach Trenia Jones afterwards. "We knew Blinn was going to give us everything they had. And, we tried, and we got lucky tonight."
"In the locker room, we said we did too much to lose now, we're going all the way," said Apache Ladies sophomore Jamia Malone, who scored a game-high 17 points and was named MVP, "so second half, all we had was heart, the one word was heart, and we had it. I don't even know what to say, I'm so excited. Nationals here we come!"
The 2007 NJCAA Divison I Women's Basketball Championship is set for March 20-24 in Salina, Kansas.
In the men's game, it was an upset for the ages. 7th-seed Lon Morris, playing on their home court, knocked off 4th-seed Navarro 65-63. The Bearcats, who won seven of their final 9 regular season games just to earn a spot in the postseason, knocked off second-seed San Jacinto 85-82 in overtime on Saturday, then beat sixth-seed Lee 90-85 Sunday night to earn a spot in the championship game. The Bearcats shot out of the gate against Navarro, hitting 50% from three-point range to grab a 29-21 halftime lead. James Legan finished with a game-high 19 points, including 5-of-7 from three point land. Jerel Hastings also chipped in 19 as the Bearcats held off the Bulldogs in the second half.