The Lake Michigan College Women's Basketball defeated Mid Michigan Community College 67-61 on Saturday afternoon to win the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XII District G Championship. The Lady Red Hawks now advance to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament being held in Harrison, Arkansas. The women's last national tournament appearance was during the 2015-16 season.
Lake Michigan entered the championship game as the number one seed, while Mid Michigan came in as the number three seed. Lake Michigan got off to a very quick start scoring the game's first basket and the Lady Red Hawks led the entire first quarter, including taking a 12-point lead. After one quarter, the Lady Red Hawks held a 19-9 advantage. At the start of the second quarter, Lake Michigan held they double digit lead and led 29-17 with 5:02 remaining before halftime. But the Lady Lakers came roaring back and went on a 12-2 run for the remainder of the quarter. Mid Michigan outscored Lake Michigan 20-12 in the second quarter and the Lady Red Hawks only led by two points (31-29) at halftime. In the first half, Lake Michigan shot 35% (12-34) while Mid Michigan shot 38% (10-26).
The third quarter went back-and-forth between both teams. The Lady Lakers eventually took their first lead of the game at 40-39 with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter. On their very next possession, Lake Michigan did retake the lead 41-40, but once again, Mid Michigan responded and they scored 8-4 run to finish the quarter and the Lady Lakers led 48-45 going into the final quarter. Mid Michigan outscored Lake Michigan 19-14 in the third quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Lady Red Hawks went on a quick 6-0 run to take a 51-48 lead. The Lady Lakers eventually tied the game at 51-51 and over the next few minutes, neither team were able to score. But with 6:09 remaining, Lake Michigan again hit a three-point shot to take a 54-51 lead. Mid Michigan again came back and with 2:36 remaining in the game, the score was tied 56-56. After a Lake Michigan foul, Mid Michigan regained the lead at 57-56 with 2:23 left. On the next possession, the Lady Lakers were called for a foul and after converting one of two free throws, the game was again tied (57-57) with 1:57 to go. For the next minute, both teams failed to score but with 44 seconds remaining, LaChelle Knox hit a three-point shot to put the Lady Red Hawks ahead 60-57. For the remainder of the game, it came down to free throw shooting and the Lady Red Hawks converted seven of eight free throws while the Lady Lakers could only manage four more points and Lake Michigan held on for the final 67-61 win.
For the game, Lake Michigan shot 33% (20-59) and Mid Michigan shot 36% (20-55). The Lady Red Hawks did hit 10-26 in three point shots (38%) and converted 70% of their free throws going 17-24. Lake Michigan also out rebounded the Lakers 41-40, including 14 offensive rebounds. As a team, Lake Michigan had 12 assists, 11 steals, 10 blocked shots and forced Mid Michigan to commit 16 turnovers. The Lady Red Hawks had 15 turnovers.
Two players scored in double figures for Lake Michigan led by Samantha Jenkins with 21 points and Jayla Bibbs with 16 points. Bibbs also pulled down a game high of 12 rebounds and led the Lady Red Hawks with four assists. Jenkins and Monae Palmer both had three steals a piece and Taylor Cegelis blocked a game high of six shots.
Samantha Jenkins was named Tournament Most Valuable Player and Jayla Bibbs and Monae Palmer were both named to the All-Tournament team. Patrick Daniel received Region XII District G Coach of the Year.
After the game, Head Coach, Patrick Daniel stated "This has been a special season with a special group of young ladies who worked hard all year to achieve our goals of winning the conference, the state championship, and now the regional tournament to advance to the National Tournament. I cannot put into words how I feel but I am so proud and blessed to be the head coach of this team. This is something we will always remember."
Lake Michigan who is now 27-5 overall, will find out who they will play at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament on Monday, March 11, 2019. The Tournament will be held at North Arkansas College on March 19-23, 2019.