By Erik Walsh
The Nerws Staff
ATHENS–The TVCC Lady Cardinals are returning to the Women’s NJCAA Division I National Championship in Salina, Kansas March 18-23.
TVCC (32-1) is the No. 1-ranked Division I junior college team in the country and enters the tournament as the defending champions.
The Lady Cardinals will be making the trip to the women’s basketball championships for the sixth consecutive season. They have been nearly unbeatable for almost two years running.
According to TVCC Sports Information, they have not lost on the floor since the 2011 title game against North Idaho, winning 67 of their last 68 matches. Their one loss this year came by forfeit to Weatherford.
This year’s trip to the national championships will be the 18th in school history.
The Lady Cardinals advanced to the championships after winning the regional tournament March 9 in Tyler. They continue to be a model of consistency, advancing to the regional tournament finals 20 times in the last 22 years.
TVCC defeated the No. 8-ranked Blinn Buccaneers 69-58 to secure their place in Kansas. Blinn was a top team all year, as supported by their ranking, but couldn’t get past the roadblock that was TVCC. Blinn lost to the Lady Cards three times in the 2012-2013 season, including 94-88 overtime loss in the last game of the regular season.
After the regional tournament was decided, freshman Lady Cardinal Shlonte’ Allen was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, as well as league Co-MVP with Blinn’s Ausrisa Harrison. Teammates Adut Bulgak, Shannon Smith and Krystle Henderson were also named All-Region and to the all-tournament team. TVCC sophomore Savannah Carter was named to the all-conference team.
TVCC has a bye for the first round of the tournament and will not play Monday. The Lady Cardinals take on the winner of No. 16 Weatherford (24-5) and No. 17 Northeast (28-4) at 2 p.m. March 19.