With two big wins over the weekend, the Kalamazoo Valley Women’s Basketball team is gearing up to travel to the Division II National Tournament Sweet 16 in Harrison, Arkansas, March 21-25.
Under the direction of Head Coach Maureen Brown, the Lady Cougars defeated Ancilla College Friday in the District G semifinal 73-53 at the SC4 Fieldhouse in Port Huron. Ka-Leah Ryan scored 22 points while Jayshonna Blackshire added 14 points and eight rebounds. Sierra James had 10 points and seven rebounds.
In the National Junior College Athletic Association District G finals Saturday, the team defeated Lake Michigan College, 70-49. Ryan netted another 22 points and was named the tournament MVP. Sophomore Chloe Salman added 16 points, while Blackshire had 11, and James added another eight points and 12 rebounds.
“We knew both games were going to be tough,” Brown said. “In second half of both games, the girls really stepped it up and pulled through.”
The team will spend the next week preparing for the Sweet 16 Tournament, leaving Kalamazoo Sunday for Arkansas. The team’s schedule for the tournament has them playing either Tuesday March 21 or Wednesday March 22.
“We finished No. 5 in the polls,” Brown said. “Looking at the other teams, I think we have a really good chance to get a top 4 seed. We need to go into the tournament doing what we do best.”
The last time the Lady Cougars traveled to the Sweet 16 Tournament was 2011. During the 2000s the team advanced to the tournament six times – including in 2001 when Brown was a player on the team.