Trinity Valley overcomes slow start to eliminate Shelton State, reach tournament semis
LUBBOCK, Texas – The roster may be all new, but the Trinity Valley Community College women’s basketball team knows what to do on the big stage.
Not even a slow start come keep the Lady Cardinals from their quest for a ninth national championship, as Trinity Valley used its aggressiveness and athleticism to rally from as much as 10 down in the first quarter to take a 70-62 victory over Shelton State Community College in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship on Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center.
The Lady Cardinals used a smothering defense that forced Shelton State into xxx turnovers, and their aggression in getting to the basket throughout the game led to 31 free throw attempts and 20 makes, compared to just 10 of 13 for the Buccaneers.
“We’re battle tested in our region,” Trinity Valley head coach Precious Ivy said. “Region 14 is a pretty tough region, and we have to come out and play tough every night. That really helps prepare us for this national tournament.”
With the win, Trinity Valley (21-2) returns to the semifinals where it will face either Chipola College or Tyler Junior College at 6 p.m. on Friday. Shelton State, which has now been eliminated by Trinity Valley three straight tournaments, ends its season at 21-5.
After starting slow and falling behind by double digits within the first four minutes of the game, the Lady Cardinals turned up the pressure defensively and the aggression offensively, and slowly but surely chipped into the Shelton State lead over the next two quarters, then rode that momentum to a dominant fourth quarter.
Trinity Valley forced 23 Shelton turnovers, most of which came after the Buccaneers strong start, and that allowed the Lady Cardinals to do what they do best, get defensive stops and turn them into points.
“We finally got stops, and we talk about score-stop-score all the time, and we definitely got that. We always tell our kids if we can get stops we can get layups. Our defense definitely dictates our offense.”
The breakthrough, however, didn’t come until the fourth quarter. Down 51-46, Trinity Valley outscored Shelton State 7-2 over the final 2:05 of the period to tie the game at 53 going into the final period. The Lady Cardinals then opened the fourth quarter with five straight points to take a 59-53 lead and never trailed again.
Shelton State hit a Thaniya Marks layup with 1:17 to play in the third quarter, then didn’t score again for the next 6 ½ minutes and didn’t get another basket until there was 4:18 left in the game.
“We started a little slow, but I told the kids, it’s how you finish,” Ivy said. ‘We definitely want to get off to a good start but it’s definitely how you finish the game and I think we finished the game great and made some plays at the end.”
Kaye Clark led the Lady Cardinals with 11 points while Ta’Niya Jackson and Noelle Yancy finished with 10 apiece.
Kirby DeBoard led all scorers with 17 points for the Buccaneers, the only Shelton State player to finish in double figures.
It’s a good thing the Buccaneers got off to the star they did because Trinity Valley didn’t stay silent long.
Shelton State shot 50 percent from the field (12 of 24) in the first quarter and finished the first half at 46.2 percent (18 of 39). The Buccaneers also won the rebounding battle in the first 20 minutes, 25-17, and outscored the Lady Cardinals 18-10 in the paint.
But Trinity Valley stayed in the game thanks to its aggressiveness toward the basket sending the Lady Cardinals to the free throw line 18 times, hitting on 13, compared to just 4-for-4 for the Buccaneers.
Shelton led 18-8 before the Lady Cardinals began chipping away at the lead. Ta’Niya Jackson scored five points in a 7-2 run that pulled Trinity to within 18-13, but Shelton was able to keep the Lady Cardinals at bay until early in the second quarter.
Down 30-24, Trinity got a four-point play from Noelle Yancy to pull to within two, and that set the stage for a back-and-forth second quarter. Trinity Valley got the deficit down to one at 36-35 with 4:23 to play in the half, but Shelton closed strong with a 6-2 run to take a 42-37 lead at the intermission.