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The Day Before the Storm

On March 11, just one day before the Lady Mountaineers NAIA basketball tournament appearance, they had priorities other than just game planning.

“That was FUN,” exclaimed Annbruce Madden as the Lady Mountaineers soared out of the Tyson Events Center after participating in the annual Special Olympics Clinic organized by the Diocese of Sioux City. This activity is entirely voluntary, and the majority of the 32 teams invited to the NAIA-II Women’s Basketball Tournament apparently prefer to devote their time to extra practice sessions or chalk talks.

Berea, however, has always elected to pitch in. Two sessions are held, and Berea took part in the second session along with Eastern Oregon University, Rio Grande University, Union College, Daemen College, and tomorrow night’s foe Morningside College. The Lady Mountaineers did their utmost to give the Special Olympians a special experience, and they coaxed a lot of smiles when the basketballs began to fly. As we watched from the sidelines Bunky said, “We need to keep our heads on a swivel!”

The Mountaineers of Eastern Oregon University enter the tournament soon after losing their THREE best players to injury. They’ll do their best to compete with the #2-seeded Wolves of Cardinal Strich University, but they’re likely to be devoured. As we conversed with EOU’s coach the point was raised that each of the 32 tournament teams could beat at least one other team in the field. But the lower seeds, of course, are never matched against one another. They simply serve as catnip mice for the big cats. Culling the weak is, of course, the reason tournaments are seeded. But it’s almost a shame that the lower seeds couldn’t meet informally on one of the practice courts and see what happens. Those games would almost certainly be more entertaining than many of the first round mismatches. The Lady Bengals of University of Maine at Fort Kent might be skinned alive by #1 College of the Ozarks, but they would give Berea or Eastern Oregon a ferocious battle, and I for one would pay to see it.

I’d be very surprised if Morningside has bothered to investigate Berea’s defensive philosophy and intends to make any adjustments at all. They will try to score points the way they always do. It will be up to Berea to prove they can run with the Mustangs.

Exotic Berea from far-off Kentucky was the subject of a two-minute segment that formed part of the 10:00 newscast on KCAU-TV (ABC) in Sioux City. When you challenge mighty Morningside the denizens of Sioux City take notice, especially if you dare to shoot the 3 even more often than the Mustangs do. Senior Stephanie Corry, interviewed on camera, did her best to warn fans what to expect when these two high-scoring whirlwinds meet.

Berea fans might have noticed an unfamiliar face traveling with the team this last month. She’s Tabitha Lockard, newly enrolled at Berea after a semester at Northern Kentucky University. Tabitha is a graduate of Lloyd Memorial High School in Erlanger who decided she wanted to play college basketball and was attracted to the program at Berea. She has been practicing with the team and has fit right in. Bunky will be counting on her in 2008-09 and hopefully beyond.

The team has just returned from the Banquet of Champions, another special event that makes this tournament so meaningful for all the teams that worked so hard to qualify. Dressed in their best, beautifully coifed and made up, the Lady Mountaineers were not outshone by any of the stars in this firmament. I hope to be able to say that again when the games begin this evening, March 12!

There are several ways you can catch the game:

Projected Web cast 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.

Web cast 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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