From staff reports
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. —
The Crowder College Lady ’Riders are in.
It isn’t original but you can call it the “Big Dance.”
Crowder qualified for the NJCAA Division I National Tournament at Salina, (Kan.) in the Bicentennial Center.
The Lady ’Riders did it by handing Three Rivers an 81-72 loss on its Gene Bess Court in the championship game of the Region 16 playoffs on Saturday.
Crowder (27-5) still will entertain Iowa Western of Council Bluffs or Northeast Nebraska Community College of Norfolk next Saturday at Neosho — starting time will be announced — in Bob Sneller Gymnasium to decide District K.
However, in a change implemented by the NJCAA, the winner of District K and the runner-up will advance to Salina.
The winner, of course, likely will be given a higher seed in the 24-team field, Crowder coach Tina Robbins said.
The Crowder coaches hadn’t told the players before they climbed on the bus for a postgame meal.
“They went crazy,” Robbins said.
No. 1 seed Crowder rallied from a 35-32 halftime deficit against third-seeded Three Rivers (23-7).
“We traded leads a bit before we built a 12- or 13-point lead entering the final three minutes,” Robbins said. “We made it interesting for a while before making enough free throws down the stretch.”
Veteran Veronica Amos, who was 8 of 9 from the field and 4 of 4 from the foul line, and freshman Dorian Briggs, who had three 3s, tallied 20 and 17 points, respectively, for Crowder.
Camila Lacerda added 15 points, 12 assists and 6 rebounds. Terai Sadler had 13 points and joined Megan Ritter with six boards, Also, Sadler had six assists and Briggs, Ritter and Sadler each had two steals.
Crowder hit nearly 50 percent from the field and 20 of 23 from the foul line.
Three Rivers received 27 points from Anna Vogt and 20 from Macy Wright.