Lee (22-4) will begin its drive toward a third NCCAA women’s national title when the Lady Flames test Tennessee Temple (16-14) in the opening round of the MidEast Region in Jackson. A win would place Lee against the winner of the earlier Union and Bluefield contest.
If the Lady Flames and Union advance to the final, as expected, it will be the third meeting between the two members of the Gulf South Conference this season. Lee won the first meeting in Jackson, 68-66 and the second contest, 70-65 in Cleveland.
Coach Marty Rowe’s club was ranked No. 1 in the final NCCAA poll and Union was No. 3. It is possible that the two rivals could meet for a fourth time in the NCCAA National Championship, slated for March 19-22 in Winona Lake, Ind. Grace College will serve as the host.
“We practiced early Friday morning and then sent the team away for the weekend.” said coach Rowe when asked about not playing for 12 days. “We brought the team back Monday night to get back to work. We’re just trying to stay sharp but not over work them.”
Already assured a spot in the NCCAA national tourney, Rowe says his team will only be concentrating on this Friday and Saturday at this point. “I think it’s really important for us to only prepare for Tennessee Temple, that’s the way we’ve always worked and I think our players expect us to only prepare for one game at a time. Our goal in postseason is to give ourselves a chance to win and advance; so it will be important to have that thought process beginning Friday night,” he pointed out.
However, in some ways Rowe and his staff still have had to make plans for the trip to Winona Lake. “It’s a quick turnaround for sure, but we’ll return from Union late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, and then take the Sunday off,” the coach explained.
“We’ll practice Monday morning and then leave for nationals immediately after practice,” he added. “It’s about an 8 1/2 hour trip, so we’ll travel the complete day Monday. We’re excited about the opportunity to see teams with great tradition. Asuza Pacific has already qualified and teams like Point Loma and Oklahoma Christian will have the opportunity this weekend to make the field. It should be a great tourney.”
Both Friday and Saturday’s games will be aired on the radio on 104.1 FM. Friday’s pregame is slated for 8:50 and Saturday’s at 7:50 p.m.