Photo by James Parrish
Lacey Houston dribbles the ball in the frontcourt against the Dakota College at Bottineau.
For the second time in the program's history, the North Platte Community College womens' basketball team is going to the National Tournament.
On Sunday, the Lady Knights beat the Dakota College at Bottineau 64-40 in the district championship game at the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium.
"The runs we had were important," said NPCC coach Dick Thurin. "Our inside game was what we needed to do today and we did a good job of that."
About 10 minutes into the game, the Lady Knights (15-14) went on a run that set themselves apart from Bottineau for the rest of the game.
A three-point play by DaVontaye Merritt gave NPCC a 10-6 lead. Then Jordan Dickerson got a layup off of a steal and was fouled on the way up. Dickerson then made the free throw to complete the second straight three-point play for the Knights which put them up 13-6 with 10:42 left in the first half.
Nearly two minutes later, Paige Hasty hit a jumper along the baseline from 10-feet out to make it a nine-point lead.
After that run of 10 unanswered, NPCC never really looked back. The Lady Knights continued to expand their lead and they were up 30-16 at halftime.
The Dakota College at Bottineau never got within single digits in the second half. A stingy defensive effort by the Knights kept the Lady Jacks from getting any momentum.
"We talked about their three-point shooting and how that was how they scored a lot of their points," Thurin said. "Jordan Dickerson did a heck of a job on No. 23 (Josie DeGagne). We told her not to let her out of her sights."
As has been the case throughout the season, the Lady Knights were led by their inside duo of Merritt and Hasty. Hasty scored a game-high 20 points and Merritt followed with 13.
"DaVontaye didn't have one of her better games today but Paige did," said Thurin. "We just had a good team effort."
With the win over DCB, NPCC will play in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in East Peoria, Ill. which takes place from March 19-23.
It is the second time in three years that the Lady Knights will be playing in East Peoria. In 2011, NPCC qualified after also defeating the Dakota College at Bottineau.
The Knights, led by the program's career all-time leading scorer, Maggie Carson, lost both games at Nationals.