Top-seeded Chesapeake eyes region title
’Jacks could face ACM right off the bat in state-finals rematch
WYE MILLS Sometimes being the top seed isn’t quite the advantage one might expect.
Chesapeake College (23-3) was rewarded for its recent state women’s basketball tournament title with the top seed in this week’s NJCAA Division II Region XX championship tournament. The Skipjacks’ likely reward is a semifinal contest against fourth-seeded Allegany College of Maryland, pitting the two teams that squared off in the state tournament title game.
"I didn’t foresee that they (ACM) would drop to fourth in the region," said Chesapeake head coach Damon Nichols. "I thought they would be two or three since they were runner-up in the state tournament. That was kind of surprising."
While Allegany (20-8) reached last month’s state finals including a semifinal upset of Division III Montgomery College Rockville, which went undefeated in conference play the Trojans lost to both second-seeded Hagerstown Community College (24-4) and third-seeded Frederick Community College (21-8). So while Hagerstown and Frederick are likely to play in Saturday’s 2 p.m. semifinal, Chesapeake is expected to draw the Trojans in Saturday’s 4 p.m. semifinal.
"I just told our girls they have to be ready to play anybody," said Nichols, whose team has won a school-record 12 consecutive games. "We have to win two games to get to nationals. That’s all we’re focused on."
The one concrete advantage of being the top seed is that Chesapeake unlike the other six teams in the regional tournament does not have to play a Friday quarterfinal.
Allegany must beat fifth-seeded CCBC-Dundalk (13-15) in Friday’s 3 p.m. tournament opener to advance to Saturday’s semifinal against Chesapeake. Hagerstown takes on seventh-seeded Garrett College (7-20) Friday at 5 p.m. and Frederick takes on sixth-seeded host Cecil College (13-14) in Friday’s 7 p.m. contest, with the winners of those two games meeting Saturday.
The title game is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday.
"I think there are seven good teams in this tournament," said Nichols. "Anything can happen at any time. Only one can represent the region. May the best team win."
If the Skipjacks do indeed play Allegany in Saturday’s semifinal round, Nichols said there are several things his team must accomplish in order to advance.
"We just have to stop their shooter, #14 (Madison Nightengale), and slow down their point guard #20 (Brittany Taylor)," said Nichols. "If we slow them down and box out as a team and run our offense, we should be O.K."
The Skipjacks are still a bit banged up from their rough-and-tumble game last week against Potomac State. Leading scorer Shantrel Oliver banged her head and reserve Katara Pressley sprained her left ankle, with the most nagging injury being to Pressley.
"We’re still up in the air with Katara," said Nichols, who can ill afford even one injury with an eight-player roster.
Nichols said the tournament championship and the accompanying national tournament berth could come down to simple effort and intensity.
"Everybody has to be on the same page and want it more than the opponents," said Nichols, whose team has started slowly a couple of times in recent weeks. "We’ve got to be hungry for it. If we want to be successful and win the region, we’ve got to take it from the start to the end."
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