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Congratulations to Lady Wolves

Congratulations are due the Copiah-Lincoln Community CollegeLady Wolves. They have enjoyed a great campaign, winning state andregional basketball championships. Certainly they have lots oftalent and the team has played well together.

Next stop is the NJCAA National Tournament in Salina, Kan. Atthat location, the Lady Wolves (26-2), ranked No. 7 in the nation,will encounter some powerful opponents. Competition begins March19.

Let’s take a sentimental journey back to third week of March in1997. The Lady Wolves brought a 28-3 record to Tyler, Texas for thenational tournament. Certainly, they had high expectations.

Coach Gwyn Young’s Lady Wolves came face-to-face with someoutstanding teams. They lost to Weatherford, Texas 85-60 in theopening round. Weatherford was led by Olga Firsova, a 6-foot-5 1/2center from Kiev, Ukraine.

Firsova was one of four foreign players on the 30-2 squad. RedaKakerenaite, a 6-1 forward from Klaipeda, Lithuania, scored 15points. Andy Holuboa, a 6-3 post from Bratislava, Slovakia, added15 points and 12 rebounds.

Sounds like an all-world team, doesn’t it?

To their credit, the Lady Wolves rebounded to beat Vincennes(Ind.) 69-60 in the second round. Sophomore post players D.D. Cainand Rusty Webb led Co-Lin with 20 and 12 points respectively.Guards Terri Channell and Chassity Cubie added 10 and 9 pointsrespectively.

The officiating, if you would call it that, was criticized byboth coaches. To say it was a rough game, was an understatement.Ladies, make sure to wear your knee pads, elbow pads and protectivemouth pieces.

Quoting Vincennes coach Harry Meeks. “That officiating wasawful. We had a chance to win it in the last few minutes but theywouldn’t call anything.”

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Some coaches, when first confronted with the permissive style ofofficiating, feel like they have just landed on another planet.Welcome to the galaxy games.

Young expressed his surprise. “That’s the roughest game I’veever seen. It was unbelievable.”

Eight of the tournament’s 19 officials were women that year.There wasn’t much femininity in the tournament.

Webb, a slender 5-10 blond from Louisiana, said, “The refereesdidn’t call any thing. They just let us beat up on everybody.”

Players must have the mind-set of a battlefield warrior. Beready to go to war. Ice bags are a popular item after the game.

Co-Lin lost to John L. Logan (Ill.) 61-47 in the next round andpacked for home. Coach Young runs a tight ship and he had suspended5-10 center Nikki Gray after the opening round game. Gray, theteam’s second leading scorer, didn’t play the rest of thetournament as a disciplinary measure.

Cain was a tough 5-10 post from Natchez, who signed withSouthern Miss. However, she never played for the Lady Eagles.

Trinity Valley (Texas) defeated Seminole (Fla.) in the 1997title game.

The officiating won’t be much different this year. Players whoare strong and quick will survive. The strongest teams with themost depth usually prevail. There is no place for timidity.

Young said the tournament bracket and seedings will bedetermined Thursday. Co-Lin, winner of the state and regionaltitles, plus No. 7 national ranking, should be among the higherseeds.

The final NJCAA women’s poll of the season found NortheastOklahoma A&M ranked No. 1. Gulf Coast (Fla.) was second, SewardCounty (Kan.) third, Jefferson (Mo.) fourth, Trinity Valley fifth,Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) sixth and Co-Lin seventh. The rest of theTop 10 featured Arizona Western eighth, Midland (Texas) ninth andSouth Plains (Texas) 10th.

Meridian Community College was ranked No. 12 in the poll but theLady Eagles were eliminated in the regional tournament semifinals80-68 by Southwest of Summit. The Lady Bears have a strong squadbut Co-Lin was able to notch a 70-66 triumph in the region finalsThursday night, beating the Lady Bears for the third time in fourmeetings.

It was a rematch of the state tournament championship game froma week earlier when Co-Lin prevailed 70-65. Mark Swindle has donean outstanding job coaching the Lady Bears the past twoseasons.

The Lady Wolves are playing well right now. Sophomores MindyLivaudais of New Orleans and Christy Brown of Zachary, La. start atthe post positions. Freshman Lindsay Altman of Ruth starts atforward while sophomore Gwen Smith of Wesson and freshman TianaBurns of Nashville, Tenn. work at guard.

Co-Lin’s bench has been a strength this season. Freshman forwardNikki Blakely of Brookhaven provided a big spark in the win overSouthwest Thursday night. Alexya Irvin of Brookhaven and AymeBeeson of Calhoun, La. see time at guard. Beeson missed theregional due to a severe case of flu but she was in uniform for thefinals. Posts Laurie Ann Davis of Natchez and Shaquita Smith ofUnion Church provided big support on the backboards, plus offenseand defense.