Winning streaks to collide at nationals
’Jacks, winners of 14 straight, take on team with 24-game win streak
EAST PEORIA, Ill. One impressive winning streak has got to end in the first round of the NJCAA Division II national women’s basketball tournament, which takes place here March 20-24.
Chesapeake College’s Ashleigh Jones, left, drives on Hagerstown’s Jasmine Reynolds in Sunday’s Region XX women’s basketball championship game. The Skipjacks, 53-35 winners of that contest, are seeded 13th for the 16-team NJCAA Division II national tournament that takes place next week in East Peoria, Illinois. Photo by Scott Serio/Eclipse Sportswire
While 13th-seeded Chesapeake College (25-3) has won 14 straight, the Skipjacks’ first-round opponent fourth-seeded Louisburg (N.C.) College (28-1) has won 24 in a row since the Hurricanes’ lone loss of the season against St. Petersburg College.
Chesapeake and Louisburg tip off next Wednesday at 1 p.m. at tournament site Illinois Central College. The winner advances to next Thursday’s 8 p.m. quarterfinal against the winner of next Wednesday’s first-round match between fifth-seeded Mesa Community College (22-7) and 12th-seeded St. Louis Community College (20-8).
The losers of those two contests play in Thursday’s 1 p.m. consolation bracket game.
"I’ve talked to a couple of coaches about them," Chesapeake head coach Damon Nichols said of Louisburg. "What I’ve heard is they’re a lot like us fast, use pressure defenses, pretty good team. If we stick to our schemes and do what we’re supposed to do, it should be a pretty good game."
Johnson County (Kan.) Community College (31-1) is the top seed in the tournament. The Cavaliers, who finished fifth in last year’s national tournament, were fourth in this season’s preseason poll. Cincinnati (Ohio) State Technical & Community College (30-1), seeded second, was not even in the original Top 20 poll for this season.
Louisburg has been winning with a balanced offensive attack. While only three Hurricanes Jasmine Phillips (15.8 points per game), Jazmine Parker (10.6 ppg.), and Olivia Gaines (10.2 ppg.) average double-figure scoring, four of their teammates average at least six points a game.
The Cavaliers, however, will be matched against what is statistically the fifth-best scoring defense in the nation. Chesapeake is averaging just 49.5 points per game allowed this season.
Louisburg and Chesapeake played four common opponents Southern Maryland, Allegany, Prince George’s, and Montgomery Rockville. Louisburg went 4-0 against that group, while Chesapeake was 5-2 against the same teams.
A pessimist would point to the Rockville comparison, with Louisburg beating Rockville by 27 and the Skipjacks losing to the Knights by six. An optimist would note that Louisburg only beat Allegany by seven, while Chesapeake beat the Trojans by five, nine and 13 points while going 3-1 against Allegany.
"That’s a little relief for us," said Nichols. "A team in our region competed with them and had a chance to win. On any given night anything can happen."
The 28-game tournament is divided into two draws, a championship bracket and a consolation bracket. The eight first-round winners move on to the championship bracket while the eight first-round losers drop into the consolation bracket. Teams that lose their first two games are out of the tournament field.
In the championship draw, there are two quarterfinals next Wednesday and two next Thursday, with the semifinals slated for 6 and 8 p.m. next Friday.
There are four games next Saturday, with three preliminary games deciding seventh, fifth and third place and setting the stage for the 7:30 p.m. national championship game.
The tournament schedule follows:
NJCAA Division II National Tournament at Illinois Central College (East Peoria, Ill.)
Tuesday, March 20 Round of 16
(3) Kirkwood vs. (14) Southeast, 9 a.m.
(6) Kishwaukee vs. (11) St. Clair County, 11 a.m.
(1) Johnson County vs. (16) Erie, 1 p.m.
(8) Prairie State vs. (9) Monroe, 3 p.m.
(7) Lake Michigan vs. (10) Lake Land, 6 p.m.
(2) Cincinnati vs. (15) Lackawanna, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, March 21 Round of 16 continued
(5) Mesa vs. (12) St. Louis, 11 a.m.
(4) Louisburg vs. (13) Chesapeake, 1 p.m.
Wednesday, March 21 Quarterfinals
Kirkwood/Southeast winner vs. Kishwaukee/St. Clair winner, 6 p.m.
Lake Michigan/Lake Land winner vs. Cincinnati/Lackawanna winner, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, March 21 Consolation Bracket Contest
Kirkwood/Southeast loser vs. Kishwaukee/St. Clair loser, 3 p.m.
Thursday, March 22 Consolation Bracket Contests
Lake Michigan/Lakeland loser vs. Cincinnati/Lackawanna loser, 9 a.m.
Johnson County/Erie loser vs. Prairie State/Monroe loser, 11 a.m.
Mesa/St. Louis loser vs. Louisburg/Chesapeake loser, 1 p.m.
Thursday, March 22 Quarterfinals
Johnson County/Erie winner vs. Prairie State/Monroe winner, 6 p.m.
Mesa/St. Louis winner vs. Louisburg/Chesapeake winner, 8 p.m.
Thursday, March 22 Quarterfinal losers
Losers of Wednesday’s 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. winners’ bracket quarterfinals, 3 p.m.
Friday, March 23 Consolation Bracket Semifinals 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Friday, March 23 Championship Bracket Semifinals
National semifinals, 6 and 8 p.m.
Friday, March 23 Consolation Bracket Contests
Consolation bracket semifinals, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Friday, March 23 Quarterfinal losers
Loser of Thursday’s 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. winners’ bracket quarterfinals, 3 p.m.
Saturday, March 24
7th/8th-place game, Noon
5th/6th-place game, 2 p.m.
3rd/4th-place game, 5 p.m.
National championship game, 7:30 p.m.
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please send correction or comments to: Becky Fauver