The Lake Michigan College Women's Basketball Team defeated Mott Community College 74-63 on Saturday afternoon to win the 2018-19 Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) State Championship. This is the Lady Red Hawks first MCCAA State Championship since the 2000-01 season and fifth state title overall.
Things did not start off well for the Lady Red Hawks, as they found themselves down to Mott 9-2 after four minutes had been played in the first quarter. The Lady Bears took advantage of Lake Michigan's turnovers and missed shots and eventually pushed their lead to 10 points (19-9) with 28 seconds remaining in the quarter before the Lady Red Hawks converted a free throw to end the quarter down nine points (19-10).
It was in the second quarter when Lake Michigan began their comeback. Within the first three minutes, the Lady Red Hawks went on an 11-2 run to tie the game (21-21). Lake Michigan had the ball after getting a defensive rebound, but turned the ball over and the Lady Bears hit a quick lay-up to go back on top 23-21 with 6:09 remaining before halftime. The Lady Red Hawks scored on their next possession to tie the game at 23 and then forced a turnover by Mott with 5:34 remaining in the second quarter. On the very next possession, Lake Michigan hit a three-point shot to give the Lady Red Hawks their first lead of the game at 26-23. Lake Michigan never trailed again for the remainder of the game. The Lady Red Hawks finished the quarter on a 10-6 run including holding Mott scoreless for the final two minutes to lead at halftime 36-29. Lake Michigan outscored Mott 26-10 in the second quarter. Both teams shots 12-31 (38%) from the field in the first half, but Lake Michigan hit on three of their 11 three-point attempts while the Lady Bears were 0-7. The Lady Red Hawks also made nine free throws compared to just five by Mott.
In the third quarter, the Lady Red Hawks extended the lead to 12 points (44-32) with 5:55 left in the quarter, but Mott continued to fight back and they extended their defensive pressure which forced Lake Michigan to struggle offensively. Turning over the basketball and missing shots, allowed the Lady Bears to finish the quarter on their own 12-3 run and pull within three points (47-44) entering the final quarter. Mott outscored Lake Michigan 15-11 in the third quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Mott forced Lake Michigan to turn the ball over on their first possession and the Lady Bears hit a three point shot to tie the game 47-47 just 30 seconds into the final quarter. But on the next possession, Samantha Jenkins hit a three point shot to again put the Lady Red Hawks up 50-47. Over the next few minutes, both teams executed on offensive and got defensive stops, but Lake Michigan still maintained a five point lead (58-53) with 3:28 remaining in the game. With the ball on an inbounds play, Jenkins hit another three point shot to extend the Lady Red Hawks lead to eight points (61-53) with 2:42 remaining in the game. After a few empty trips for both teams, Mott did score to again pull with six points (61-55), but again the Lady Red Hawks had an answer and scored to pull ahead by eight points (63-55) with just 1:30 remaining in the game. After a Lake Michigan foul, Mott made a one free throw, but the Lady Red Hawks executed a long inbounds play that got them a lay-up to now extend the lead to nine points (65-56) with 1:02 to play. The Lady Bears answered right back with a three-point shot and the score was 65-59 with 59 seconds to go. After a Mott timeout, Lake Michigan again executed a long inbounds play that resulted in a lay-up and foul for the Lady Red Hawks. After converting the one free throw given, Lake Michigan led Mott 68-59. The Lady Red Hawks finished the game going a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line to win 74-63 and claim the MCCAA State Championship. Lake Michigan outscored Mott 27-19 in the fourth quarter. With the win, the Lady Red Hawks extend their current winning streak to nine, including the last 14 out 15 games and now have a 25-5 overall record on the season.
After the game, Head Coach, Patrick Daniel stated "I cannot say enough of how much this team has worked so hard to achieve another goal we set for ourselves at the start of this season. I am so proud of their effort and not showing any panic after we struggled in the first quarter today and being down double digits. We just fought back and made some great defensive and offensive plays when we needed to win this State Championship game. We will certainly enjoy this win and next week we begin our preparations for the district tournament."
For the game, Lake Michigan shot 44% (24-54), while holding Mott to 32% (22-68). As a team, Lake Michigan had 39 rebounds, 13 assists, 11 steals, and nine blocks.
Four players scored in double figures for the Lady Red Hawks led by Samantha Jenkins with 28 points, including going 5-11 from the three-point line. Monae Palmer had 16 points, Jayla Bibbs added 15 points and Aymia Flowers chipped in 10 points. Bibbs led Lake Michigan with eight rebounds and both Bibbs and Jenkins had four steals apiece. Palmer dished out five assists and Taylor Cegelis blocked four shots.
Next up for the Lady Red Hawks is the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XII District G Championship Tournament. Lake Michigan enters this tournament as the number one seed and they received a bye into the semi-final round. They will play on Thursday, March 7, 2019 at 7:30 PM. The Lady Red Hawks will either face the fourth seed Jackson College or fifth seed Grand Rapids Community College, who play on Tuesday, March 5 in a quarterfinal game. The NJCAA District G Championship Tournament Semi-final games (March 7) and Championship game (March 9) will be played at Grand Rapids Community College.