By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Crowder College opens its bid for a NJCAA Division I Region 16 championship today at Poplar Bluff against State Fair.
Crowder, 25-5 under Tina Robbins, is ranked nationally 15th and seeded No. 1 for the playoffs at Three Rivers Community College.
Crowder and fifth-seeded State Fair of Sedalia are scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m. on Gene Bess Court. The second semifinal at 7 is second-seeded Moberly vs. No. 3 Three Rivers.
The championship contest is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.
State Fair pulled off a surprise as the six-team playoffs began on Tuesday night. State Fair, the visitor, received a trey from Kaci Cason at the buzzer to win 67-64 against No. 4 Mineral Area at Park Hills.
Three Rivers beat Jefferson 74-52 in the other game to complete the semifinal pairings.
Just last Saturday, Mineral Area, playing at home, defeated State Fair 86-72 in a regular-season final.
The Region 16 champion will entertain Iowa Western, the Region 16 champion in 2012, or Northeast Nebraska Community College of Norfolk in District K on March 9. That winner advances to the national tournament at Salina, Kan.
Crowder claimed the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with a 9-1 record — losing only at Moberly — against region foes home and away.
The Lady ’Riders, in sweeping State Fair, exceeded 80 points in both games. It was 85-73 in overtime at Sedalia.
Crowder held a 11⁄2-hour matinee practice Thursday before leaving for Poplar Bluff.
Coach Robbins said that Crowder will be without 5-foot-7 sophomore Sarah Sagely the rest of the season because of a leg injury sustained on Feb. 13 at State Fair.
“Obviously, the loss of Sagely is big,” Robbins said. “But I have confidence in our kids. We had adversity to overcome — injuries and sickness — throughout the season. Other players stepped up.”
Veronica Amos, a 6-foot sophomore, recently returned from the sick list, Robbins noted.
Probable starters for Crowder are 5-6 freshman Camila Lacerda, 5-7 sophomore Caprese Marshall, 5-8 freshman Dorian Briggs, 5-10 sophomore Chloe Nichols and 5-11 sophomore Terai Sadler.