Admirals, LMC Lady Red Hawks excited about post-season

Lake Michigan is the PBL Midwest champion and headed for a showdown with Rochester (NY).  Lake Michigan College’s Lady Red Hawks upset eleventh-ranked Kalamazoo Valley CC and is headed to the Division II NJCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

“Right now I’m riding on Cloud 9,” exclaimed Lake Michigan coach “Ace” Jackson following the Admirals 136-128 victory over Racine on Saturday. “The energy in the gym was high and every basket meant something.”

It was win or go home for the rubber-game match-up, turning out to be another classic battle reminiscent of the double overtime, 159-156, loss February 28 at Michigan Lutheran High School.

Racine took a 26-25 first quarter lead. Lake Michigan went up by 10 in the second, only to give it back before halftime, holding on 64-63. The lead was still two after the third quarter, 99-97.

 About 10 minutes into the fourth quarter Nicholas Waddell, the league’s leading rebounder fouled out, leaving the game with 21 points. Jackson said this was a critical moment in the game. “Nick told Nate (Barfield) he had to hold down the center and that we weren’t going to lose this game.”

Barfield, already having a career-game said “I took the role and stepped up from there. I couldn’t believe it. I was just in the zone.” Barfield finished with 34 points and 25 rebounds. “I left it all out on the floor,” explained the Chicago native.

Courtney Blackmore finished with 26 points for Lake Michigan and Troy Franklin Jr. 23. The Admirals finished the regular season 12-4.

 Lake Michigan has never beaten Rochester in its five years as a PBL member. The RazorSharks completed a perfect Eastern Division season, 15-0, and will play the Admirals at Watervliet High School March 21 at 6 PM.  The series moves to Rochester on March 28, with a third game, if necessary.

Rochester is averaging 127.4, beating opponents by over 19 points a game. They also tout six different players among the PBL’s league leaders. “I think they’re going to be surprised,” explained Jackson. “Rochester has always been the powerhouse.”

Lake Michigan is well represented among the league’s leaders. Waddell is third in most points scored. Franklin Jr. is second in three-pointers followed by Blackmore and second in assists. Waddell is first in rebounds and Barfield third. The most impressive category is steals with Franklin, Blackmore and Troy Taylor making the sweep.

LADY RED HAWKS

Third time was a charm for Lake Michigan College. Suffering two defeats by a total of six points, The Lady Red Hawks put together the perfect game defeating eleventh-ranked Kalamazoo Community College, 69-54 in the finals of the MCCAA Division II Tournament at Delta College. The win put LMC in the Nationals for the fourth consecutive year and fifth in the last six years.

“The girls played well and put two halves together. I’m very proud,” said LMC Coach Jason Cooper. “They know they’re capable of playing in big games and have gained confidence. In our tournament, every game was win or go home, and then the pressure of playing a team that had already beaten us twice.”

Cooper gave credit to Shalay Stevens and Christy Gonzalez for their parts in the victory. “Those two are the X factors to this team.” Cooper said. Stevens scored 26 points against KVCC and averaged 17.3 points and 11.6 rebounds for the tournament. Gonzalez scored 16 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and was assigned to the Cougars leading scorer, Mallory Sewell. Sewell was held to 11 points and 10 rebounds. Stevens and Sabrina Trujillo were named to the “All Tournament Team” and Cooper “Coach of the Year”. LMC is making its seventh appearance in the NJCAA Tournament and ranks seventh with most tournament victories among all Division II schools.

The Red Hawks (24-8) will face Chesapeake College (19-4) from Wye Mills, Maryland Tuesday, March 18 at 8 PM. “I’m so excited we accomplished this goal. The team is feeling real good,” Cooper noted. The NJCAA final regular season poll had LMC 17th.




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