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Kirkwood wins junior college women's title-Saturday

March 25, 2002|BY BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

The "toos" piled up early for the Kirkwood Eagles in their quest for the NJCAA women's Division II national championship against the Penn Valley Scouts Saturday night.

Like too much energy. Too tough on defense. Too much heart. And definitely, too much Meg Tierney.

Tierney, the Eagles 6-1 sophomore forward scored a double-double, a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds, as Kirkwood sprinted away from Penn Valley 76-47 for its second national title since 1997.

"We wanted this game so much," Tierney said. "We wanted it for us because this tournament - this season has been about the focus of this team.

"We play with tremendous emotion, no doubt," Kirkwood coach Kim Muhl said. "I know these kids felt like they could win this after the way we played against Illinois-Central (Friday)."

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"We played as hard as we ever have in the first half of this game," Eagles guard Erin Fantroy said. "Our timing was important."

And if timing was everything, then Kirkwood couldn't have picked a better time to play with the intensity it did.

In fact, the Eagles wasted little time in setting the tone for Penn Valley. After an initial dry spell where neither team scored, Kirkwood opened up a 16-6 lead with eight minutes gone. Although Penn Valley rallied twice to pull to within single digits, the Scouts never really threatened. Tierney and the 6-foot-2 Mindy Sywassink kept Penn Valley's rebounding threat - Randi Johnson - more than in check. Kirkwood outrebounded Penn Valley 50-34 for the game, but it was more than 2-1 early in the first half as the Eagles gained control.

"We were confident right from the start," Kirkwood's Meg Ripperton said. "Everyone was a little tight in the beginning of the game, but once we loosened up, things started going our way."

But what loosened up first was the perimeter where the Eagles' Lori Nowachek drained a 3 followed by a pair of long jump shots just outside the key by Fantroy and Tierney.

"Turning Meg Ripperton loose to run made it tough on (Penn Valley)," Muhl said. "She never gave them a chance to get a defense set."

Penn Valley coach Marcus Harvey called time out and elected to move his defense to the perimeter, playing a zone inside.

The move allowed Tierney to get open in the paint where she scored the last four points of the half putting the Eagles up, 33-21.

"We feel epecially good about what we have done," Ripperton said. "We didn't hide from anybody. We took everyone on and won. This team deserves credit."

Tierney was named tournament MVP while Ripperton and Fantroy were both named to the All-Tounament Team. Muhl received the National Coach of the Year honor for the second time.

KIRKWOOD (76)


Evans 1-2 0-0 3, Sullivan 0-0 0-0 0, Sandquist 3-6 0-1 9, Fantroy 7-17 2-4 17, Nowachek 1-1 0-0 3, Ripperton 2-6 0-0 5, Wood 0-0 0-0 0, Nanton 0-1 0-0 0, Schrock 0-2 3-3 4, Cooper 3-8 1-4 8, Sywassink 0-4 0-0 0, Tierney 9-15 9-11 27. Totals 26-62 16-24 76.

PENN VALLEY (47)


Paez 3-10 0-0 7, Dean 0-0 0-0 0, Davidson 8-20 0-0 17, Wilcox 0-1 2-2 2, Johnson 0-5 0-0 0, Turner 1-2 0-0 2, Hill 0-2 0-0 0, McConnell 2-10 0-0 5, Walsh 0-2 0-0 0, Allen 5-10 4-9 14. Totals 19-62 6-11 47.

Halftime - Kirkwood 31, Penn Valley 21. Three-point baskets - Kirkwood 8-19 (Sandquist 3-6, Nowachek 1-1, Evans 1-2, Ripperton 1-2, Cooper 1-3, Fantroy 1-4, Tierney 0-1), Penn Valley 3-20 (Paez 1-4, Davidson 1-4, McConnell 1-7, Wilcox 0-1, Turner 0-1, Hill 0-1, Johnson 0-2).

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