Head and Shoals above

Northwest-Shoals continues to beat odds with a second-half rally to score a come-from-behind upset of Kankakee.

Northwest-Shoals continues to beat odds with a second-half rally to score a come-from-behind upset of Kankakee.

March 20, 2003|By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

Please excuse the Northwest-Shoals (Ala.) Community College women's basketball team if it seems to have an identity problem when it comes to what sport its playing.

You see, this particular basketball season has really been more about clearing hurdles than scoring points.

And you can bet the Patriots are enjoying every leap.

Northwest-Shoals cut loose with a frenzy in the second half to run Kankakee (Ill.) Community College off the floor in a convincing 86-62 win Wednesday in the opening round of the NJCAA Women's Division II Championships at Hagerstown Community College's athletic complex.

Northwest-Shoals (22-11) used what has become its signature style by overcoming adversity to notch another win.

"This team has come far just to get the chance to play here," Patriots sophomore forward Leslie Smith said. "We struggled to win early on this season, lost a starter, but we came together and pulled through."

Northwest-Shoals was dealt a difficult hand earlier this week when forward Tahcahrah Owens was hobbled by an ankle sprain, putting extra pressure on Smith and freshman Latasha Trammell in the post.


The news seemed worse when the Patriots drew Kankakee, a team that built it's reputation and 28-5 record on the inside play of 6-foot-3 Jessica Aldridge and 6-2 Andrea Engleking.

"We knew they are a great post team," Patriots coach Kristy Ward said. "We knew it would take a great effort. This team worked hard. And we believe in ourselves."

Smith and Trammell dominated the bigger Cavaliers in the paint for a 50-28 rebounding advantage, including 19 offensive rebounds. It was the key to winning the game.

"We stress rebounding in every phase of our game," Ward said. "This game was won down there. We really stepped up inside, especially on the offensive boards."

"Leslie Smith did a great job for us." Ward said. "She had a big job ahead of her, but she did it very well."

Smith finished the game with 16 points and 12 rebounds while Trammell had nine points and 11 rebounds.

Northwest-Shoals domination of the boards enhanced an uptempo offense and suffocating defense it unleashed on the Cavaliers.

After being lulled to sleep by Kankakee's deliberate play in the first half, the Patriots exploded for a 17-4 run in the first six minutes of the second half and never looked back.

Catrella Kennedy, who finished with a game-high 18 points, hit a 3 to put the Patriots up 51-37 at the 12 minutes to play opened the flood gates.

But more importantly, the Patriots' frenetic pace took its toll on the Cavaliers' legs.

"Kankakee is a good team." said Patriots point guard Sheree Thompson, who scored 15 points. "But this team has seen the bottom and no one liked it there. That is going to make it all that much tougher to beat us."

The Patriots led 76-56 under three minutes to play.

"We didn't come here just to play basketball," Thompson said. "We came here to win this thing."

Redlands (Okla.) 83, Owens (Ohio) 72

Redlands Community College had five players in double figures as it defeated Owens Community College.

Mandy Darwin led Redlands with 18 points and 15 rebounds while Shannon Avery had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Laney Watson had 17 points, Tana VonTunglen added 15 and Ashley Perkins scored 12.

Sinclair (Ohio) 65, CCAC/Allegheny (Pa.) 53

Adra Calvin led Sinclair Community College with 17 points and 12 rebounds in a victory over Allegheny.

Tiffany Peacock scored 17 points and added nine rebounds, while Erin Crawford had 10 points for Sinclair.

Nicole Fischer scored 20 points, Alexis Pugh added 11 and Ashley Barlow had 10 for Allegheny.

Mitchell (Conn.) 78, Bismarck State (N.D.) 50

Jade Leitao scored 23 points to lead Mitchell College past Bismarck State College.

Shanna Cyrus had 16 points and 13 rebounds, while Carmella Suggs added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Mitchell.

Angle Frenzel led all scorers with 32 points and Megan Espeland scored 10 points for Bismarck State.

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