Three top seeds took home court on Sunday with the opportunity to punch tickets to the 2018 NJCAA Division III Basketball National tournaments by claiming a win. However, home court advantage held for only one of the MCAC squads which had it, while a double-overtime thriller decided a second women's regional and a Cinderella story team found success that had eluded past squads.
Northland CTC women's basketball team had several tough challenges during the 2017-18 season; the Northern Division women's basketball ranks had tremendous parity and both Hibbing CC and Rainy River claimed wins over the Pioneers in league play. However, when it mattered most, Northland brought their 'A' game and dispatched both Central Lakes College and Hibbing Community College on successive nights to win the NJCAA Region XIIIB championship and earn their 8th tournament berth in nine years. Head coach Shannon Nelson and All-Division honorees Megan Swedberg, Brooke Heggie, Emily Anderson and Madison Stenzel will have experience on their side as they travel to Rockford, Illinois as one of eight teams pursuing a national championship. For details on the NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament, including brackets, logistics and more, click here.
The last time Minnesota West CTC turned in an above-.500 season in men's basketball was the 2013-14 campaign, when the Blue Jays went 19-11 and lost to Vermilion in the second round of the MCAC State Tournament game. New head coach Aaron Poor-Bear, hired just before the season began, found the right buttons to push and produced an unlikely breakout season for the BlueJays, culminating in the State Championship and bid to the National Tournament. All-Southern Division award-winners Alex Brown, DeShawn Pickford and Kuol Chol put together clutch performances to win back-to-back-to-back contests in Coon Rapids, at Anokra-Ramsey Community College. MnWest knocked off both top seeds Rainy River Community College (84-79) and Anoka-Ramsey (89-62), as well as RCTC (85-80), last year's State Tournament runner-up. According to NJCAA records, Minnesota West will be making their first-ever appearance in the NJCAA National Tournament, capping off a great Cinderella run for their squad. Information on the 2018 NJCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament, including brackets, host school information and more, click here.
In Southern Division women's basketball action, RCTC and MnWest met twice in regular season contests, with the Lady Jays claiming both Conference wins. However, RCTC made the third time the charm for their squad, as they outlasted MnWest in a double-OT thriller that finished 88-84 in favor of the Yellowjackets. Head coach Steve Huecke also serves as the Rochester baseball coach, but he will be on the hardwood for one more week as they prepare for their trip to the National Tournament. RCTC was led by Nautika Kotero and Olivia Haug, both first team All-Division selections, as well as Grace Riley and Jalsya Cutting, who were Second Team and Honorable Mention picks, respectively. For details on the NJCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament, including brackets, logistics and more, click here.
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The United Heroes League seeks to keep military kids healthy and active through sports while their parents are serving the nation. The United Heroes League is headquartered in Hastings, Minnesota and offers several opportunities for colleges, businesses, organizations and individuals to help support their cause. The #1 goal for the United Heros League is to ensure that all 5 million military kids are able to develop critical life skills through sports. This intense focus on youth development and serving the families of our miliary service members motivates the United Heroes League to keep programs focused. This focus has also inspired over 90 professional athletes and over 30 sports franchises to lend their name and support to the United Heroes League.
About the Minnesota College Athletic Conference
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State system. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.