Highland Women Win Region Againpublished March 12, 2014
Highland Women Win Region Again
The Highland Scotties women’s basketball team won back to back NJCAA Region VI championships after beating Johnson County Community College in the title game for the second straight year. The title game, held at Koch Arena in Wichita, was the third time these two teams have met this season. The teams split the first two games -- each winning on the other’s court -- but the Highland women prevailed in another epic battle as they made plays down the stretch to secure their second straight trip to the National Tournament. Ironically, this year, the National Tournament is being hosted by Johnson County on their campus in Overland Park on March 18-22. The number two seed in the National Tournament, the Scotties will play their first round game on Tuesday, March 18, at 6:00 pm.
In the Region VI title game, the Scotties played without leading scorer and rebounder Julia Alves who was knocked out by an elbow in the previous game against KCK, but didn’t skip a beat as they jumped out to an early 11-5 lead, led by sophomore Ryann Bowser (Holton). “Our young ladies did what all good teams do when one of their key players go down, which is someone else steps up and takes on the load,” stated head coach BJ Smith. The Scotties stretched out to the biggest lead of the game, 28-19, but Johnson came back and made it 28-23 at the half.
The second half saw both teams struggle to shoot the ball, and Johnson used their size advantage to collect 20 offensive rebounds. Highland got a key contribution off the bench from Celine Jolicoeur (Floral Park, NY) who scored eight points. “Our bench was incredible; they all gave us vital minutes when we needed them,” said Smith. The Scotties led until the five minute mark when Johnson tied it on a 3 pointer at 47. JCCC then went up 51-48 after hitting two free throws and a basket and a free throw by the Scotties. At that point, it looked like the Highland women had run out of gas. However, sophomore Krystal Cohrn (Topeka) scored five straight points on two lay-ups, with the second one being a conventional three point play to put the Scotties up 53-51.
After an empty possession from both teams, the Cavalier’s Juanita Robinson hit a free throw to close the gap to 53-52 before Cohrn stepped back to the line to hit one of two to put the Scotties up 54-52. Johnson had 18 seconds to try to win the game, but had to call their final timeout with 10 seconds to play as they couldn’t make a pass. “I thought our sophomores were incredible, giving us big plays when we needed them down the stretch,” said Smith. To end the game, Johnson shot a contested 3 that hit the top of the backboard and was rebounded, but Bowser and Cohrn blocked the final shot as time ran out.
The Scotties were led in scoring by Bowser with 17 points and six assists, and Cohrn led the team with nine rebounds followed by fellow sophomore Ashley Torres (Puerto Rico). The Scotties completed Region VI play with a 30-2 record.