HANCEVILLE ? Four gritty wins in four days resulted in a state championship and a trip to the national tournament for Wallace State?s women?s basketball team earlier this month.
For Wallace State coach Larry Slater, it was a great example of a solid team peaking at the right time.
?The most important thing to me is our girls can come away from this season knowing they belonged in the national tournament. We deserved to be there and proved to ourselves we could be competitive with anyone,? said Slater, who completed his 22nd year at the helm. ?The old adage of gelling at the right time was a big part of our success at the state tournament. The last month has been a great experience.?
Wallace State?s women finished the season 21-9, won the program?s sixth Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Region 22 championship and made an appearance at the NJCAA tournament appearance for the first time since 2003.
The Lady Lions entered the ACCC tournament on Feb. 27 in Tuscaloosa as the Northern Division?s No. 3 seed, and in a four-day span beat L.B. Wallace, Alabama Southern and both No. 1 seeds Shelton State and Chattahoochee Valley respectively to claim the title. It capped off a stretch of Wallace State winning nine of 11 games before the NJCAA Division I tournament. Wallace State lost its first-round NJCAA game to Vincennes (Ind.) University and ended its season in an overtime heartbreaker to Cloud County (Kan.) Community College after battling back from an 18-point second-half deficit.
?Several times this season we faced big deficits and fought, scratched and clawed our way back into it. I thought that said a lot about our girls as individuals and as a team. They were always pulling for each other,? said Slater, who made his fourth NJCAA tournament appearance. ?I truly believe all of these girls are also fighters in life and will be successful in whatever endeavors they pursue.?
Point guard Bailee Robinson ended a stellar career with ACCC tournament MVP honors and was selected to the ACCC All-Region first team based on regular-season play. She was the team leader in points scored, assists, steals, 3-pointers made, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
Robinson and WSCC teammates Natalie Kelley and Morgan Duncan will continue their basketball careers next season at UAHuntsville.
Remaining sophomores Zadous Pollard, Lauren Grisham and Sheena Nation are also expected to further their basketball careers next year.
Key players returning for Wallace State next season should be guard Brooklyn Warren and forwards Tacouya Allen and Nisha Walker.
Meanwhile, Slater will be 21 wins shy of 500 career victories at Wallace State when the 2011-12 season approaches.
Wallace State?s women?s basketball became the college?s fourth different program to win a state championship and make a national tournament appearance during the last two academic years.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu or wscsoftball.com.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 Direct line: 256-352-8443
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu