By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Crowder College and Northeast Community College of Norfolk (Neb.) already have qualified for the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Basketball Championship.
So, what’s Northeast traveling to Neosho for a 2 p.m. game today in Bob Sneller Gymnasium?
There are two good reasons, Lady ’Rider coach Tina Robbins said Friday.
The District K title is on the line, of course, but more important is that the result will have something to do with the national tournament scheduled March 18-23 at Salina (Kan.) in the Bicentennial Center.
“It definitely will affect seedings for the national tournament,” Robbins said. “The top eight teams in the 24-team field get byes. Now, there’s no consolation bracket, except for third place.”
Crowder, ranked 14th in NJCAA Division I, and No. 15 Northeast have respective records of 27-5 and 28-3.
The teams proved their mettle by winning regional titles on the road. Crowder claimed Region XVI (Missouri) by beating host Three Rivers at Poplar Bluff on March 2. Northeast prevailed that night at Iowa Western after a 20-point setback to the Reivers on the same court a week earlier.
“You don’t reach this point without being a good team,” Robbins said of Matt Svehia’s Hawks, who also have lost to Cloud County of Kansas and Kirkwood of Iowa.
“They have a good point guard in Andrea Johnson,” Robbins said. “Lexi Murphy is a good 3-point shooter. Johnson and Raveen Murray are good attacking the basket. They have two big post players in 6-foot-3 Ivana Vuletic and 6-0 Jaylan Spencer.
“The strength of the team perhaps starts with their guard play,” Robbins said.
Possible starters are the 5-4 sophomore Johnson, 5-6 freshman Murray, 5-9 freshman Murphy and veterans Spencer and Vuletic.
Scoring averages include 11.8 for Johnson, 10.6 for Spencer, 9.5 for Murphy, 8.5 for Murray and 8.4 for Vuletic.
Alison Klostergaard, a 5-11 freshman, is the leading rebounder with a 7.3 average.
Likely starters for Crowder, according to Region XVI coach of the year Robbins, are 5-8 freshman Dorian Briggs, 5-6 freshman Camila Lacerda, 5-7 sophomore Caprese Marshall, 5-11 sophomore Terai Sadler and 5-10 sophomore Chloe Nichols.
Sadler, who’s shooting 57.9 percent from the field and 86 from the foul line, is averaging 18.8 points.
Scoring averages also include 11 for Lacerda, 10.6 for 6-0 veteran Veronica Amos, 10.2 for Marshall, 6.9 for Briggs, 5 for 5-7 freshman Seleena Neal, 4.3 for Nichols and 3.4 for 5-7 freshman Megan Ritter.
Caitlin Miller, 5-5, completes the roster with fellow veteran Sarah Sagely (5-7) sidelined with an injury.
Sadler and Amos are the leading rebounders at 9.3 and 7.2, respectively. Lacerda paces the team in total assists (208) and steals (69).