Trinity Valley’s length, defense smothers Chipola en route to semifinal victory
LUBBOCK, Texas – Isadora Sousa saw a wide-open baseline and tried to drive for a Chipola College basket, but waiting for her in the paint was Trinity Valley Community College’s 6-foot-5 center Taiyanna Jackson.
Caught in between in the air, Sousa could neither get off a pass or a shot, and the ball simply floated right into Jackson’s hands for a turnover.
That was symbolic of the entire night as Trinity Valley’s length and defensive pressure hounded Chipola all night long, and the Indians were powerless to get around it or stop the Lady Cardinals from dominating in the paint, lifting the Lady Cardinals to a 77-64 victory in the semifinals of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championships Friday night at the Rip Griffin Center.
“Jackson got hurt early in the season and that helped develop Williams and (Kiana) Anderson and (Mikayla) Hutchinson,” Trinity Valley head coach Precious Ivy said. “They got a lot of minutes early in the season and that is really helping us now because they have that experience, and it’s a two-headed monster right now no matter who we put in.”
Jackson and 6-1 forward Mahoganie Williams combined for 36 point, 27 rebounds and six blocks, and the Lady Cardinals advance to the title game for the first time since 2018 in search of their ninth national title and first since 2014.
To accomplish that feat, the Lady Cardinals will have to get past Northwest Florida State in Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship game. But if they have a game like they did on Friday, that title drought will soon be history.
Anderson added 10 points and five rebounds for the Lady Cardinals while Kaye Clark chipped in 12 points and three assists, helping the Lady Cardinals build a big lead early in the second quarter and never look back.
The play of Williams, Jackson and Anderson down low helped Trinity Valley forge a 50-18 advantage on points in the paint and a 51-34 advantage on the boards. Jackson finished with 15 points and 21 rebounds while Williams had a team-high 21 points and six rebounds.
“(Chipola) has height, but I thought we were more athletic, and we did want to take advantage of that, and it worked out in our favor,” Ivy said. “All we’ve talked about is playing 40 minutes and we hadn’t done it up until this point. We got to the tournament and I think the girls have done and amazing job of playing 40 minutes.”
Try as it might, Chipola simply couldn’t cause enough damage in the second half to chip away enough at the deficit it built after struggling in the second quarter.
Trinity Valley led just 19-15 to start the second quarter but opened the period on a 9-3 run to build a double-digit lead at 28-18 with 7:24 to play in the first half. The Lady Cardinals then closed by scoring 12 of the final 14 points of the period, and took a 40-22 lead into the halftime lockerroom.
Trinity Christian pushed the lead to 20 at 50-30 with 6:15 to play in the third quarter, but Chipola rallied back with a 9-1 run to cut the lead to 12 at 51-39, and a 3-pointer by Jordan McLaughlin just before the quarter ended had the Indians down just 57-44.
Chipola got with in 12 one more time, but that came late in the fourth quarter and the Indians couldn’t get any closer.
Trinity Valley forced 19 Chipola turnovers and held leading scorer De’Myla Brown, who came into the tournament averaging 20 points per game, to 16, but 10 of that came after the outcome was well in hand. McLaughlin led the Indians with 21 points and Isadora Sousa added 13.
“That was definitely the plan,” Ivy said. “We wanted to limit (Brown), and I thought we did a good job of that. We didn’t limit (McLaughlin) as much, but we knew (Brown) was really their spark, so we didn’t want to let her get going.”
There wasn’t a whole lot that didn’t go right for the Lady Cardinals in the first half. They closed the first quarter strong with a 5-0 run that extended to 9-0 to start the second quarter and put Trinity Valley up 23-15, and they closed the first half on a 10-2 run for a 40-22 lead at the intermission.
Trinity’s length gave the Indians fits from the beginning. The Lady Cardinals outscored Chipola 28-8 on points in the paint and outrebounded the Indians 28-20 while shooting 51.4 percent (18 of 35) from the field.
Chipola, meanwhile, had trouble getting off a good shot. The Indians weathered an early storm but could not stem the tide completely and hit just 8 of 36 shots from the field (22.2 percent) in the first half.