CASPER, Wyo. – Karli Seay scored 34 points and the Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team punched their ticket to the Region IX championship game with a 67-62 win over Northwest College Friday evening in Casper, Wyoming.
The win was the 22nd-ranked Cougars 13th straight and moved WNCC to 29-3 overall.
WNCC will face Casper College in the championship Saturday at 4 p.m. with the winner qualifying for the NJCAA national tournament March 19-24 in Lubbock, Texas. Casper topped Miles 60-56 Friday night.
The Cougars will be vying for their second straight regional title after topping EWC last year for the title.
“It is a huge win. It gives us an opportunity to play for a region championship tomorrow [Saturday],” WNCC coach Chad Gibney said. “I am proud of the girls for showing mental and physical toughness in a very close, physical game. We are very excited to play for a championship.”
It was a game where WNCC did enough right things to get the win against a talented Northwest squad.
“We guard. We sat down and defended really, really well,” Gibney said. “That kept us in the game because of our defense and our activity on that end.”
Seay was the big scorer for the Cougars. Not only was she high scorer with 34 points, but she made all the team’s points in the second and third quarter. The freshman from Chicago connected on three threes and was 9 of 13 from the charity stripe.
“Karli was incredible tonight,” Gibney said. “She has been unbelievable all tournament long. She is extremely talented. She is committed to what we are trying to do, but at the same time she is completely unselfish.”
WNCC defense down the end was the key to the game. Northwest took its first lead of the game at 56-55. Both teams were tied at 62 with 90 seconds to play. That is when the Cougars defense clapped down holding Northwest down. Seay also connected on 5 of 6 free throws while also getting two big steals to seal the win.
Gibney said the fourth-quarter defensive effort was huge for the Cougar squad.
“The defense was huge. When we really needed the stops, we got them,” he said. “It is a close game and they have the basketball and you have to come up with a stop. We did”
WNCC put three in double figures. Seay led all scorers with 34 points. Jaleesa Avery poured in 12 points and pulled down eight boards, while Merle Wiehl had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Giovanna Silva a team-high 14 rebounds while scoring eight points.
WNCC only shot 32 percent from the field and made 5 of 19 treys. Seay had three while Wiehl had two.
Northwest shot 35 percent from the field and buried seven 3-pointers. The Trappers, who lost to the Cougars in the regional tournament for the second straight year, had four in double figures. Julynne Da Silva had a double-double to lead the team with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Alexi, Payne, Carri McArthur, and Dallas Petties each had 10 points.
Gibney said they will have to play just has tough on Saturday to earn the automatic berth into the national tournament against a talented Casper squad.
“We will have to play with the same intensity,” he said. “We will have to make shots on the offensive end and we will have to get out and turn this game into a track meet.”
Northwest 12 11 24 13 – 62
WNCC (29-3) 18 12 17 20 – 67
Tala Aumua-Tuisavura 4, Tayla Sayer 3, Kira Marlow 4, Dani McManamen 4, Julynne Da Silva 11, Kaylee Brown 6, Alexi Payne 10, Carri McArthur 10, Dallas Petties 10.
Merle Wiehl 10, Jaleesa Avery 12, Anastacia Johnson 1, Giovanna Silva 8, Karli Seay 34, Josie Perez 2.