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Lady Wolves claim 7th place in nationals

SALINA, Kan. – Guard Nadia Collins listened to Co-Lin coach GwynYoung’s first-half lecture and responded in all-star fashion. Thesophomore from New Orleans poured in 15 second-half points andsparked the Lady Wolves to a 73-61 Saturday victory over NorthIdaho College’s Lady Cardinals in the consolation finals of theNJCAA National Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The victory, coming beneath the snow-covered roof the BicentennialCenter, granted Co-Lin (31-2) a seventh place finish in thetournament as the Wolves won three straight games. Collins hadplenty of offensive support as four teammates reached doublefigures. Sophomore forward Rachel Vigers led the way with 20points. Shareka Hunt chipped in 13 points, Brandi Simmons 12 andLatoria Holder 11.

“I was kind of sluggish the first half,” admitted Collins. “Coachtalked to me and told me to play my game. I wanted to help our teamwin.”

Collins and her teammates regrouped after the Wednesday loss toCasper (Wy.) in the opening round. They defeated Lincoln Trail(Ill.) Thursday and Walters State (Tenn.) Friday to reach theconsolation finals. It was the first time for Co-Lin to win threegames in the national tourney. In 2007, Young’s squad went 2-2,winning their first game and finishing sixth.

Young, in his 34th year at Co-Lin, said it was the first time forhim to ever end a season with a victory. “I’m proud of our team.They played hard and never gave up.”

Collins recalled the team’s feelings after the 66-56 loss toCasper. “I felt like we could have won that first one if we hadplayed harder. Our shots weren’t falling.”

Vigers said the team vowed to play better after losing to Casper.”We had to work harder and not lose a game. I knew I had to stepup.”

Knocking off the towering North Idaho team was a challenge. TheCardinals started two 6-foot-2 players, a 6-2 and a 5-11.

Vigers, a 5-9 Baton Rouge product, said she and her teammatesplayed strong defense against North Idaho. “Everybody had to helpout today. We were up against some tall girls and we are prettyshort.”

Vigers and Holder each had 7 rebounds in the victory. Simmons had 6rebounds and Hunt 5.

The Cardinals held a 48-40 rebounding advantage but they shot afrigid 26 percent from the field. Tugce Canitez, a 6-2 freshmanfrom Izmir, Turkey, accounted for 19 points and 11 rebounds.Shakiana Edwards-Teasley, a 6-2 freshman from Lapwai, Idaho, added16 points and 9 rebounds.

“Nadia really helped us out in the second half today,” saidVigers.

Young said he had threatened to send Collins to the dressing roomwhen he pulled her out of the game in the first half. “I really hada talk with her. Nadia had a really good game in the second half.She hit some big threes and drove it inside, too.”

Collins hit a pair of second-half treys when the Cardinals nearlyerased an 18-point deficit. They cut Co-Lin’s lead to four pointsbut Collins drained a trey from the corner and tacked on a pair offree throws for 9-point cushion.

Young said he was concerned about North Idaho’s superior height anddepth. He planned to use a zone defense but his team started strongin a man-to-man and forged an early lead.

“Our girls really played hard on defense against a much tallerteam.”

Co-Lin also sparkled on defense, making 55 percent of its fieldgoal attempts and 71 percent of its free throws.