Our Women’s Basketball Team had arguably the most successful season in program history this year. Our program had its fair shares of ups and downs this year. Between navigating difficulties that come with the pandemic, experiencing the passing of the father of our assistant coach, Coach Branco, and riding through the normal waves of emotion that come with any basketball season, it felt like there was always another obstacle waiting around the corner this year. However, our team used these obstacles as motivation to get better and mark the history books with an unforgettable season. We ended the season with a 27-4 overall record, including a record-breaking 23 game win-streak, and a trip to the biggest stage possible, the NAIA National Tournament. This season marked the first time the Trojans’ Women’s Basketball Team made it to the NAIA National Tournament since 2008.
Setting school records and winning games was impressive to say the least but qualifying for the National Tournament gave our team a sense of pride that nothing else could give us. Making the tournament meant that our season was successful, and, out of all 230+ NAIA women’s basketball teams in the nation, our team was among the top 48.
I will never forget the energy in the gym after we beat Bellevue in the NSAA Conference Championship and officially punched our ticket to the National Tournament. Getting to cut down the nets after the game with the support of our fellow students and community members was incredible. Nothing brings me more pride than knowing that I not only get to be a part of such a special team, but I also get to use my talents to contribute to the happiness of the people around us who love us and want to see us succeed just as much as our team does.
First Stop: Omaha
The first adventure of the national tournament was our qualifying regional tournament in Omaha, NE We celebrated the chance to be in Omaha by exploring downtown, visiting the Ameritrade Park where the Baseball College World Series is played, and posing with statues. Savannah Walsdorf, Morgan Koepsell, and Miakken Vincent were so excited that they got to take pictures with their favorite animals, and Morgan Huber had a new profile picture taken with her new best friend!
Of course, our time in Omaha wasn’t all fun and games. (We were there to play basketball after all!) As you can tell from the picture of Ashlyn MacDonald and Lex Evans, our practices in Omaha were very, very serious with no tolerance for any monkey-business.
In Omaha, we earned the #1 seed of our bracket, and took on the Providence University Argonauts in the D.J. Sokol Arena of Creighton University. This thriller of a game ended in a 77-66 victory and gave our team the chance to play on the biggest stage yet in Sioux City, IA.
Final Destination: Sioux City
The final stop on our trip was the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, IA. Only the best 16 teams in the nation can claim to have made it this far. The Sweet Sixteen was the biggest game we had played in all season, but we were ready for the challenge of taking on Sterling College. Even though we were ranked a seed below Sterling, we shocked them with our defensive pressure and won the game 91-77.
The Elite Eight game was unfortunately where our season had to come to an end. We lost this game to the #1 seed of the tournament, Thomas More. Everyone left the court that day feeling disappointed and even more motivated to use this offseason to get better for next year. I can speak for the entire team when I say that there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t think we were better than Thomas More. We didn’t prove how good we really were that day, but next year, everybody better watch out because we aren’t giving up on winning a National Championship any time soon. In the meantime, we’ll be celebrating this past unforgettable season and getting ready to have even more success next year.