By GREG WEBB
In contrast to Monday’s slow start, the Weatherford College women jumped out of the gates with a vengeance on Tuesday at the Bicentennial Center in Salina, Kan., taking on Trinity Valley’s Lady Cardinals. The Lady Coyotes built a double-digit lead that melted away and turned into a double-digit deficit in the second half.
WC made a comeback of their own to erase most of the Trinity Valley margin, but fell just short of regaining the lead in the closing seconds, exiting the national tourney with a 75-70 loss.
In their second-round match of the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship Tournament for Division I, the Lady Coyotes deployed a 17-0 scoring run to lead No. 1 seed Trinity Valley by 20-9 less than five minutes into the contest.
The pace of the match in the first 10 minutes of the opening half offered no indication WC was leg-weary from the tourney’s opener on the previous day. Both teams remained in perpetual transition from the tip-off, with the up-and-down the court lasting well into the half before patrons saw a real half-court setup.
Trinity Valley began to chip away at the Coyotes’ formidable margin, but did not catch up with WC until the second half. Turnovers plagued Weatherford in the second half, allowing the Cards to extend its lead to 14 points with less than five minutes left in the contest.
But WC was not done just yet, proving more efficient with their possessions in the waning minutes and in and out of a full-court press, putting together defensive stops that reduced the margin to three points over the ensuing three minutes.
Scoring for both sides stalled in the remainder of the contest until TV’s Shonte Allen stepped to the foul line with 10 seconds left, sinking both free throws and pushing the margin to two possessions. Sending the Lady Cardinals to the line late was a double-edged sword for WC. Trinity Valley was 14-of-14 at the sripe for the day.
WC was led in scoring by Itiana Taylor, who helped the second-half comeback en route to 20 points. Cleydor Blanco and Bre’ Brooks were also in double digits, putting up 17 and 13 points respectively.
The Weatherford College women finish their 2012-13 season as North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference champs and NJCAA national tournament qualifiers while sporting a season record of 26-6.