With both the men's and women's teams competing this weekend at the Region 18 basketball tournament this weekend, it's hard not to do a little comparison shopping between the two. In fact, the Salt Lake Community College women's team did something Friday that the SLCC men couldn't do the night before. And the Utah Valley Community College women certainly would have wanted to achieve at least part of what their male counterparts did the previous night.
First, the facts: SLCC upset top-seeded tourney favorite and nationally ranked UVCC 67-61 in women's semifinal play Friday at the UVCC Activity Center.You see, the SLCC men seemed bent on doing the same thing against top-seeded and nationally ranked Southern Idaho the night before, trailing only by two to four points through much of the second half before faltering. And the UVCC men shot a blistering 82 percent in the first half of their Thursday night victory over Snow College before finishing with a 71 percent shooting average.
The UVCC women, which had finished the regular season ranked ninth in the NJCAA women's poll and were awarded the Scenic West Athletic Conference's regular-season championship trophy at halftime Friday, would have loved to shoot anything close to the UVCC men's 71 percent. The Lady Wolverines found themselves mired in a game-long shooting slump, hitting 33 percent in the first half and 23 percent in the second for a 28 percent effort for the contest.
SLCC Coach Soni Adams said her team played relaxed, despite leading scorer KayCee Arnold having departed with an injury some 10 games ago and guard Stephanie Denos playing with a stress fracture herself. "We were relaxed - the pressure you could see was with them (the Wolverines)," said Adams. "We were enjoying it. It's not like the end of the year for us if we didn't go to nationals - not like for Utah Valley."
Ah, yes, the Lady Wolverines won't be making a return trip to the women's national tournament in Tyler, Texas, where they finished tied for ninth last year. "But we finished with a 26-3 record and still have to feel very happy," said UVCC Coach Tom Perkins, who spent considerable extra time after the game in the locker room in convincing his visably disappointed players of the same.
SLCC seeemed in control of the contest essentially from the start, usually keeping a distance of several points between itself and UVCC. And when the Wolverines narrowed the margin to 43-42 midway in the second half, the Bruins reeled off a 9-0 run for a 10-point margin.
Jennifer Brown led SLCC with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Kammie Siddoway added 14 points. Melani Francis, the Scenic West's leading scorer during the regular season, finished with 15 points and 10 boards for UVCC.
Southern Idaho 83, Snow College 64
Four CSI players finished in double figures - led by Keller Sharleece's 20 points - as the Golden Eagles jumped out to an 18-point lead by halftime. Shana Russell paced Snow with 13 points.
It will be the much-awaited matchup between the tournament's top two seeds and a rematch between a pair of nationally ranked squads as Utah Valley Community College and the College of Southern Idaho advanced to Saturday's finals following semifinal triumphs Friday night.
UVCC, ranked No. 3, swept the regular-season series from CSI, the top seed in the Scenic West's playoffs and No. 10 squad in the NJCAA poll. "They say you can't beat the same team three times - bah," said UVCC Coach Duke Reid. "But we've got to play our game, execute and play flawless to do so."
Utah Valley 72, Eastern Utah 70
The Wolverines' Brian Santiago found teammate Mike Dean under the basket for the winning layup with :05 to play, while CEU's Jason Martin came up short on a go-ahead trey try at the buzzer as UVCC had to come from behind to beat the Golden Eagles.
"It would have been a travesty for our team and coaches to lose that game - we were ahead for 38 minutes," said Reid.
Santiago led all scorers with 20 points and nine assists, while Doug Champman added 16 points and 10 boards. Junsie Cotten tossed in 19 points for CEU, while Martin contributed 18.
Southern Idaho 114, Dixie College 71
The top-seeded Golden Eagles shot 55 percent from the floor and connected on 34 of 45 attempts from the line while easily dispatching the Rebels. CSI's Toni Harris tallied 31 points by making 9 of 14 FG tries and 13 of 18 FT attempts, while Ethan O'Bryant's 20 points pasced Dixie.