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The Road to the NAIA Championship

The Berea College Lady Mountaineers are in Sioux City, Iowa, for their third trip to the NAIA Championship Tournament. For the second year in a row it was decided that the team would travel the 900+ miles to Sioux City in the Berea College bus. Bus travel is considerably less expensive than what it would cost to fly to Omaha and rent a couple of vans, and it helps the players keep up with their studies. They can take their laptops on the bus and spend large blocs of time working unimpeded. With the weekends factored in as travel days, the players don’t actually miss any more class time than they would if they flew. As we all know, air travel today is full of hassle and is time-inefficient.

The team departed late Sunday morning following a practice session and a brief but stirring devotional service conducted by campus minister Edwin Broadhead. Ed’s inspirational message was greatly appreciated by a group of students who seem as physically, mentally, and spiritually equipped to “represent BC” as any athletes Berea has sent to a national competition. However this team might have struggled at times during the regular season, it is now tournament-tested, experienced, and focused on winning. Team leaders have asked the coaches to conduct more strenuous practice sessions, the better to prepare them for what shapes up to be the greatest challenge a Berea women’s basketball team has ever faced.

Ranked #2 in the nation, Morningside College has won 30 of its 33 games. Its average result is an 86-62 victory. The Mustangs are not a team that rides the shirttails of one or two dominant players. No one averages as many as 13 points per game, but all of them contribute points from every spot on the floor. If this is not enough, Morningside will also boast a hometown advantage. Their campus is just a few miles from the Tyson Events Center, where the tournament games will be contested. Sioux City fans will be out in force, and they won’t be cheering for the Lady Mountaineers.

“Morningside is arguably the best team in the country,” says Berea coach Bunky Harkleroad. “Watching their film and looking at scouting reports, you don’t see a lot of holes. They’re a guard-oriented team like we are, but the difference between their guards and ours is about 3 or 4 inches at each perimeter spot. They’re long, they’re skilled, and they’re very aggressive on the perimeter. They play a system where they shoot a lot of 3-point baskets and play multiple full court pressure defenses. They’re going to try to turn us over a lot, as we are them.”

There are several ways you can catch the game:

Projected webcast on campus (free)
8:45 p.m. in the Student Organizations Lounge of Alumni (just outside the Pinnacle and BCC offices). Seating is limited, so make sure you come early. Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Webcast from your own computer by subscription
You can also watch an online broadcast of this game and other tournament games by subscription. Click here to subscribe.

Live Radio Broadcast
Listen to a live broadcast of the game on the radio as well as online carried by Richmond station WLFX, the Fox, 106.7 FM.

Stay tuned to BCnow as our roving reporter, Tom Chase, provides daily updates from Sioux City.

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