Although it didn’t come as easily as the regular season finale against Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley just four days ago, the St. Louis Community College women’s basketball team advanced to the Region XVI championship game after a 62-43 win over Penn Valley on Thursday.
The Archers (24-6) entered Thursday’s game ranked 14th nationally, the team’s highest position in the NJCAA polls this season. The semifinal victory included a few tense moments in the second half, as STLCC saw its lead whittled to just six with 15 minutes remaining in regulation play.
The Archers had beaten the Lady Scouts by a 41-point margin earlier in the week, a level of success that only increased the challenge of Thursday’s meeting, according to head coach Shelly Ethridge.
“The big challenge is that the kids get back to taking them lightly,” Ethridge said. “Our opponents really get amped to play us, and sometimes our kids can take them for granted.”
As she has done all season, sophomore guard Deborah Holcomb led the Archers with 20 points, followed by freshman Khalia Miller with 11 on a night that was overall a struggle offensively. STLCC connected on just 29 percent (22 for 76) of its shots from the floor.
Though it lacked the crispness of some of their late-season wins, the Archers have advanced to the Region XVI title game for the fourth consecutive season under Ethridge. They will oppose North Central Missouri College, which split a pair of games against the Archers during the regular season. While the Archers won the last meeting, 99-69 on Feb. 7, Ethridge cautioned against drawing any early indication on the regional title contest from any previous games.
“We’re going to have to play a really good game against North Central,” Ethridge said. “Last year, the scores were very similar when we played us at their place, and we beat them at our place. They played very well in the regional championship and won it. It’s more about our team reaching the goal that we set, and this has been our mission from Day 1.”
A win Saturday would give the Archers their third regional title in four seasons.