By CINDY CROSBY
The Salkehatchie Lady Indians made history Saturday afternoon when they earned one of sixteen spots in the 2021 NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Championship, set to be held April 20-24 at Catawba Valley’s Tarlton Complex in Hickory, North Carolina.
The Lady Indians (18-0, 12-0) will learn where they are seeded and who they will face on Monday, April 12 during the NJCAA Selection Show set to begin at 11 a.m. That event occurred after print deadline.
The Lady Indians defeated Bryant & Stratton Community College (91-73) and Catawba Valley (84-71) in the Region X Conference Tournament to earn a spot in the dance.
Playing in the semi-finals against Bryant and Stratton on Thursday, April 8, the Lady Indians led the entire way. Mariah Igus scored 39 points in the game and claimed seven rebounds.
Antwanique Walley added 16 points and seven rebounds and Andre’sia Alexander had 12 points and six rebounds. Other scoring included Kaia Simpson, who scored nine points; Omari Kirkland, who added six to the tally; Halle Davis, who scored five; and Aabreah Keitt, who added four points.
In the championship game played Saturday afternoon in Walterboro against Catawba Valley, the Lady Indians powered ahead to a 38-21 lead at halftime.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Catawba Valley trailed by nine points. The Lady Indians scored 27 points in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach and seal their trip the NJCAA Championship Tournament, representing the Southeast District.
Igus continued to pound the boards, scoring 27 points in the game with seven rebounds. Walley recorded a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Alexander also scored 13 points and had three rebounds. Other scoring included Shatyra Moree, who added 10 points to the score; Keitt, who added nine points; Kirkland, who added seven points; Davis, who added three; and Simpson, who added two points to the final score.
Colleton County High School Lady Cougar alumni Omari Kirkland is a member of the Lady Indians and has figured prominently into their success this season, splitting time at point guard.
The 2021 NJCAA DII Women’s Basketball Championship was originally scheduled to be held at the SC4 Fieldhouse in Port Huron, MI, but was relocated to Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC. According to the NJCAA website, the decision was made due to a significant, recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Michigan and the areas surrounding Port Huron.
“While a late change in venue is not ideal, this difficult decision was made considering the current impact of the pandemic on St. Clair County and making sure our student-athletes have the opportunity to compete for a national championship this year,” stated Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO. “The NJCAA is very thankful for all the work that has been done in preparation by SC4 and the surrounding community, and I personally thank them for their due diligence in protecting everyone involved. We sincerely look forward to hosting the national championship at the SC4 Fieldhouse in March 2022.”
The change in venue allows the Lady Indians to compete much closer to home.