Lady Red Hawks End Special Season at the NJCAA National Tournament

Lady Red Hawks End Special Season at the NJCAA National Tournament

The Lake Michigan College Women's Basketball ended their season on Friday, March 22, 2019 after participating in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Women's Basketball National Championship Tournament in Harrison, Arkansas.  The Lady Red Hawks were one of 16 teams to qualify for the national tournament after they won the NJCAA Region XII District G Championship.  This was Lake Michigan's first appearance in the national tournament since 2016.

Lake Michigan entered the national tournament as the number 11 seed and on Tuesday, March 19, they took on number six seed Pima Community College from Arizona in their first round game.  Of the six games played on the first day of the tournament, this by far was the most exciting and compelling game where both teams competed hard to gain the win.  After the first quarter, Pima held a 27-23 advantage, but the Lady Red Hawks outscored Pima 18-15 in the second quarter and trailed by one (32-31) going into halftime.  Lake Michigan outscored Pima 19-12 in the third quarter and took a six-point lead (60-54) into the final quarter.  The Lady Red Hawks extended their lead to as many as nine points, but Pima came roaring back and led by seven points (77-70) with less than two minutes to play. Lake Michigan did not quit and pulled with two points (81-79) with 14 seconds to play.  The Lady Red Hawks forced Pima to turn the ball over and a last second three-point shot with no time remaining fell in and out and Pima escaped with an 81-79 win.  Four players scored in double figures for Lake Michigan led by Samantha Jenkins and Jayla Bibbs with 21 points each. Monae Palmer added 16 points and Aymia Flowers chipped in 11 points.  Bibbs also pulled down nine rebounds and led the Lady Red Hawks with six assists. Jenkins, Bibbs, Palmer, and Flowers all had three steals a piece.

Lake Michigan's second game in the national tournament was in the consolation bracket on Wednesday, March 20 where they faced off against number 14 seed, Chesapeake College from Maryland.  The Lady Red Hawks controlled the game in the first half and held a 42-26 lead at halftime after outscoring Chesapeake in both the first and second quarter.  The second half was a much different story as Chesapeake did not quit and they fought back.  Chesapeake outscored Lake Michigan 15-10 in the third quarter and the Lady Red Hawks lead was cut to 11 points (52-41) entering the fourth quarter.  In the final 10 minutes, both teams scored and Chesapeake closed the margin to two points (66-64) with 1:48 to go in the game, but Lake Michigan responded by hitting two straight baskets and hitting their free throws to secure the final 75-69 win.  For the game, the Lady Red Hawks went 23 for 27 from the free throw line.  For the second straight game, four players scored in double figures for Lake Michigan led by Monae Palmer with 21 points.  Samantha Jenkins had 14 points, LaChelle Knox added 11 points and Jayla Bibbs chipped in 10 points.  Palmer also led the Lady Red Hawks with seven rebounds and four assists.  Taylor Cegelis blocked three shots.

Lake Michigan's run in the national tournament ended on Friday, March 22 when they were defeated by number 15 seed Wayne County Community College 67-60.  While the Lady Red Hawks led for most of the game including at halftime (32-29), Lake Michigan struggled in the second half being outscored 17-16 in the third quarter and 21-12 in the fourth quarter.  Only two players scored in double figures led by Jayla Bibbs with 20 points and Samantha Jenkins with 19 points.  Bibbs also led Lake Michigan with six rebounds and seven steals.  For the second straight game, Taylor Cegelis had three blocks.

For the national tournament, Samantha Jenkins led the Lady Red Hawks in scoring, averaging 18 points per game.  Jayla Bibbs averaged 17 points per game and Monae Palmer averaged 12.6 points per game.

Lake Michigan completes the 2018-19 season with a 28-7 overall record and finished 16-2 in Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCAAA) Western Conference giving the program their first outright MCCAA Western Conference title since the 1996-97 season.  The Lady Red Hawks also won the 2018-19 MCCAA State Championship and this was their first state championship since the 2000-01 season. With also winning the NJCAA Region XII District G Championship, this was the first time in program history that the Lady Red Hawks have won all three championships in a season.

Several players received individual honors and awards during this outstanding season.  Jayla Bibbs was selected to the NJCAA Region XII District G All-Tournament Team, All MCCAA Team, All NJCAA Region XII Division II Team, MCCAA First Team All-Western Conference, MCCAA Western Conference All-Defensive Team, and MCCAA All-Freshman Team.  Bibbs also received the MCCAA Western Conference Freshman of the Year and MCCAA Western Conference Player of the Year.  Samantha Jenkins was named NJCAA Region XII District G Tournament Most Valuable Player and she was selected to the All MCCAA Team, All NJCAA Region XII Division II Team, MCCAA First Team All-Western Conference, and MCCAA Western Conference All-Defensive Team.  Monae Palmer was selected to the NJCAA Region XII District G All-Tournament Team and MCCAA Third Team All-Western Conference.

Head Coach, Patrick Daniel who received the NJCAA Region XII District G Coach of the Year, MCCAA Coach of the Year and MCCAA Western Conference Co-Coach of the Year stated, "This has been a really special season that we will never forget.  This team grew from the start of the year and I am just so proud of what we accomplished including winning the three championships that has never been done before in a season.  I preach about family and we were definitely a family and while we had our ups and downs, I would not change a thing and I am so blessed to have been the coach of these wonderful young ladies who worked so hard to accomplish this great season."