the news Photo/Ryan Moulds
TVCC basketball coach Kris Baumann talks to reporters during TVCC’s media day March 9. Baumann has led the Cardinals to a 32-1 record and the number one seed in that National Tournament. The Cardinals are seeking their first ever National Championship.
By Ryan Moulds
The News Staff Writer
ATHENS–The TVCC Cardinals and Lady Cardinals basketball teams are looking to build off of great regular seasons and bring home National Championships to Athens this season. The Cardinals hold a record of 32-1 and are ranked number one in the country. They enter the NJCAA Tournament as the number one seed. The Lady Cardinals have a record of 28-3 and will be entering the women’s tournament as the number six seed.
“Our goals at the end of the year are to play in the National Tournament,” TVCC coach Kris Baumann said. “The more I’ve challenged the guys this year, the better we have played. It would mean everything to us to be able to win a title. Our group has been very mature and battled through lots of adversity. I want to play well and advance as far as we can. A lot of different factors go into these tournament game but I think our guys are good enough to handle the pressure.”
The Cardinals are currently on a 27 game winning streak. They have had several big moments including coming back from a 22-point deficit against Navarro to win by one and beating Paris on a last second 3-pointer. Baumann is confident that playing in games like that will give his team the edge they need when games in the tournament get close.
“We have known since the beginning that we were going to be a special team,” TVCC sophomore Leon Gilmore said. “Even before we put on the uniform and played we knew how good we were and we knew that this was the team that could take us all the way to a championship. We want to be the best team every time we step on the floor and I think we are. This entire team loves each other and we love to play together. It’s never a dull moment with this team and we have a lot of fun playing. Coach has been setting goals for us all season and we have one more to accomplish. We want to be able to cut the nets down at the end of the year.”
The Cardinals will be in the tournament for the third time in a row, a first in school history. They will play the winner of North Dakota School of Science and Harcum (who knocked TVCC out of the tournament two years ago) on March 16. This is the eighth year in a row where the Cardinals have won at least 20 games. The best finish TVCC has ever had at the tournament was 1982 when they finished third.
The Lady Cardinals are looking to make history with their ninth championship. They finished third in the tournament last season. The Lady Cardinals have had 26 straight winning seasons and have a true winning tradition. They won three straight titles from 2012-14 and are 8-4 overall in title games.
“We have always had success here and we prepare to go the National Tournament every year,” TVCC coach Gerald Ewing. “This is a great group. They love each other and lead each other on and off the court. It’s great to have all the athletic success with us and men’s team. It’s rare at any level of basketball to have two teams who have a chance to win a National Championship in the same year.”
The Lady Cards were upset by San Jacinto in the second round of the Regional Tournament. “We were a little shocked after losing to San Jacinto,” sophomore Maya Singleton said. “We had already beaten them twice this year and nobody saw that loss coming. We got ahead of ourselves and we were looking ahead to the championship game instead of taking it one game at a time. That will be the key to having success in the National Tournament. We need to take it one game at a time and play our best basketball every time we step on the court. At this stage in the season, every single possession counts and you have to make the most out of everything.”
“We are hoping to win a title this season but we know that each game will be a challenge and anybody can beat anybody,” sophomore Troi Swain said. “It’s important that we lock in and play like a team. We were surprised to be the six seed because we expected to be in the nine to 12 range. It’s exciting to see that people still think of us as one of the elite teams in the country.”
“It means everything to represent Trinity Valley and Athens,” freshman Christalah Lyons said. “We have a big name on our jersey and it’s important that we go out and represent. The loss in the Regional Tournament lit a fire under us. We have become a strong team on and off the court. It would mean everything to cut down the nets with these girls.”
The Lady Cards have an overall school record of 1,078-232. They have a 60-17 record in the National Tournament and have appeared 21 times.
The last time the Lady Cards missed the tournament was 2007.