Mission Accomplished


By Ryan Land
Assistant Sports Editor

Sports-ICONThe Lady ‘Riders basketball season came to an end on March 20, after falling to the second seed Central Arizona, 82-57, in the second round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournament, held in Salina, Kan. from March 18-23.

One week prior to the day the team boarded the bus for Salina, the Lady ‘Riders played Northfolk, Nebraska’s Northeast Community College for the District K championship, defeating the Lady Hawks 75-70, only one week after winning the Region 16 championship against Three Rivers, 81-72, in Popular Bluff, MO.

After the District K game concluded, the players, coaches and other members of the team participated in the traditional cutting of the net. It is a tradition that was started back in the 1920’s by an Indiana high school basketball team after their state title victories, according to an article written by Chris Chase of Yahoo Sports.

For Dorian Briggs, freshman #5, being a part of the celebration after the Lady ‘Riders clinched the District K championship was one of the many memories she will remember.

“It was pretty fun because everybody was really excited and happy and when we poured the water cooler on the coach, it just seemed a lot of fun,” said Briggs, pre-nursing major.

The last time the Lady ‘Riders won the Region 16 championship was in 2003, as that year also marked the last time the team made an appearance in the NJCAA National Tournament. According to the official website of the NJCAA, the Lady ‘Riders were defeated by Western Nebraska Community College, 65-46, and would later lose to Louisburg College the next day, 74-57.

Knowing that her final week as a Lady ‘Rider basketball player was getting closer, Camila Lacerda, freshman #22, had many mixed emotions about the upcoming national tournament.

“I was really excited being that we was about to go to the national tournament, but I was kind of sad because I knew that it would be my last week,” said Lacerda, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who will not be returning to the team next season due to player age regulations in the NJCAA. “I enjoyed my time here and I was really proud of the team.”

When asked if she would return to Crowder next year if there was no regulation in the NJCAA about the certain age, she replied positively with a yes.

“I really love this school and the people, and I had a really good time here,” said Lacerda.

After making the five and a half hour journey to Salina, the team was granted 30 minutes of practice time on the court before the Lady ‘Rider’s first game at the Bicentennial Center on March 18 against Redlands Community College. For many or the entire Lady ‘Riders, it was their first time stepping onto the court of a major basketball arena as a basketball player.

“I was a little nervous because it was the first time that I was this far in basketball, and it was a fun experience for coach and the team”, said Briggs, a native of Fort Smith, Ark.

The Lady ‘Riders begun their participation in the national tournament by defeating No. 18 seed Redlands Community College Lady Hawks, 69-64, after starting out the game on a slow pace, before being tied with 26 points on the scoreboard at the half.

The team then continued to fight with the Lady Hawks, trading control of the game before the Lady ‘Riders stole the show for good when needed, to take the 69-64 win.

The Lady ‘Riders would have a day to gather their emotions and prepare for their next game, against second ranked Central Arizona, who made their 11th straight appearance in the national tournament this year.

With a big game coming, the nerves were starting to kick in for a lot of the team, including Megan Ritter, freshman #11.

“I was a little more nervous for that game, a lot of us (the team) were actually, but I personally felt a little more comfortable once we had already stepped out onto the floor once, I just felt like we could beat them,” said Ritter, a native of Jay, Okla.

The Lady ‘Riders would not be able to keep up with the No. 2 seed Central Arizona, as they fell, 82-57, to end their dream season. Central Arizona would later face off against Athens, TX based Trinity Valley in the championship round of the NJCAA National Tournament, only to be the bridesmaid, after an 83-71 result to the contest.

“We really couldn’t hang our heads down about our season or how hard we played because we know we gave it all we had on the court,” said Caitlin Miller, sophomore #21.

Before finishing their season, 29-6 overall and 11-1 in Region 16 play, the team set forth one true goal, earning a banner that would hang on the gym wall, showing future players and fans what was accomplished this year. The team accomplished that goal after winning the Region 16 championship.

“It’s an incredible feeling to know that we worked so hard and that we accomplished what we set out to do at the beginning of the year,” said Miller, who is planning to transfer to Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla to major in Electrical Engineering.

“It was really awesome, because it’s one thing to set a goal that’s reachable, but then it’s another thing completely to actually accomplish that goal, because a lot of teams set goals, but actually don’t reach that goal,” said Ritter, who is hanging up the basketball jersey and transferring to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla. after this school year.

Post season awards were given to Camila Lacerda, freshman #22, Caprese Marshall, sophomore #12, Terai Sadler, sophomore #10, and Sarah Sagely, sophomore #3. Sadler was one of ten female basketball players in NJCAA competition to earn the NJCAA All American award this past season, along with first team, while Lacerda and Sagely earned first team, and Marshall earned Honorable Mention.