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STLCC Women Punch Ticket to National Tournament with Win over Penn Valley

March 12, 2012

Cierra Gaines  
Cierra Gaines helped lead the Archers to the Region
XVI title with 17 points in a 63-55 win over Penn
Valley Saturday. The Archers earned a berth in the
NJCAA Women's Division II Tournament March 20-24.

At the season’s outset, the St. Louis Community College women’s basketball team set its primary season goal at winning the Region XVI title and advancing to the national tournament.

That’s a tall order for any team, but even more bold from a team that relies on youth as much as STLCC, which features just two sophomores on the entire roster.

Even so, the freshmen-laden Archers realized their goal Saturday in a 63-55 victory over Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley in the Region XVI finals in Sedalia, Mo.

With the tournament bid, the Archers (20-8) gained the distinction of being the first team from the new STLCC districtwide athletic program to advance to a national tournament.

The National Junior College Athletic Association Women’s Division II Tournament March 20-24 at Illinois Central College in East Peoria, Ill.

The 20th-ranked Archers entered the Region XVI Tournament a combined 4-0 against their two tournament opponents, Cottey College and Penn Valley. Despite that success, head coach Shelly Ethridge remained wary of a possible swing in momentum entering the tournament.

“The third time’s always the tough one,” Ethridge said prior to the tournament. “Anything can happen. It’s March Madness. Beating a team three times is always tough.”

Tough, but not impossible. After knocking off Cottey College 71-62 on Friday, the Archers shook off any early-game jitters to put up one of their best first-half offensive performances of the season, jumping to a 42-31 halftime lead against Penn Valley in the title game. Freshman guard Cierra Gaines (Edwardsville) led STLCC offensively, scoring a team-high 17 points.

This will be Ethridge’s second straight national tournament appearance.

Sideline Notes

  • Gaines, Shakaunna Futrell (Hazelwood West) and Datona Ball (Quincy, Ill.) were named to the all-Region XVI first team. Shonnisha Davis (Normandy) was named to the second team.
  • Ethridge was selected as the Region XVI Coach of the Year for the second straight year.
  • Gaines and Futrell also were named to the all-Midwest Community College Athletic Conference (MCCAC) first team, while Davis earned honorable mention.
  • The Archers also received the 2011-12 MCCAC Sportsmanship Award.