Greetings to all, I hope this finds you well. Once again, I do apologize for a lack of entries lately, but the beginning of the year proved to be busy once again, especially the month of February. A lot has been going on, but things should slow down with my basketball coverage for the year now completed.
The month of March is always an exciting month, with the NCAA Basketball tournaments starting up, and the road to “March Madness” begins with conference tournaments. And last week, I was out in Katy, TX for the Southland Conference basketball tournament, covering the Lady Huskies of Houston Baptist University. A quick recap, after a rollercoaster season in which their best player was lost for the year with a knee injury, HBU won on the final day of the regular season to qualify for the Southland tournament as the #8-seeded team. Despite being the last team in the tournament field, the Lady Huskies were undaunted as they faced off first against the #5 seed, the McNeese State Cowgirls on Thursday, March 12. After building a 17-point first half lead, the Huskies had to hold on down the stretch to pull out a 70-68 upset victory, stunning the favored Cowgirls and advancing to the quarterfinals. The Huskies pulled out another upset the next day, defeating the #5-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 49-48, advancing to the semi-finals. (Personal note: Due to prior commitments, I was unable to attend and cover the quarterfinal matchup, hence no photos, many apologies.)
In the last four on Saturday, HBU faced their biggest test, the top-seeded Stephen F. Austin Lady Lumberjacks, the winners of the regular season title, led by Porsha Roberts, the conference’s player of the year AND defensive player of the year. The already daunting task for the Lady Huskies looked to be impossible when they fell behind by as many as 18 points in the first half. However, a hot shooting run saw them cut the deficit to four points by halftime, 41-37. The Huskies continued their torrid shooting in the second half while mixing in some timely stops on defense, limiting Roberts to only six points (on one made basket) in the second half. The end result was an upset for the ages as Houston Baptist won, 88-81, to advance to the tournament final. Without exaggeration, it was the best college basketball game, men’s or women’s, that I’ve ever covered. It wasn’t just the comeback that was memorable, it was the way it happened, along with the atmosphere of the arena AS it happened. For example, in the second half, members of the Northwestern State band (in attendance for their semifinal against Lamar) actually went to the HBU student section and cheered for the Huskies. Even the Lamar fans who were in attendance were cheering for HBU as the game came down to the wire.
With confidence at an all-time high and local and national media now attentive, HBU faced off against the #6-seeded Lady Demons of Northwestern State in the championship game on Sunday afternoon. Sadly, after a back-and-forth first half, the Cinderella Huskies ran out of steam as a cold-shooting performance doomed them to a 58-50 defeat. Despite the setback, two members of the squad made it to the All-Tournament Team, and interest in the program has never been higher. And it was symbolic of two things: 1) March Madness will always be awesome, even the conference tournaments, where a long-shot can ride a wave of momentum to glory multiple times; and 2) In March, much like in life, it takes more than talent to succeed, it takes passion, heart and perseverance, even in the face of nearly certain defeat. It takes all those things to survive, advance and succeed in any venture, especially in basketball and especially in the month of March.
Thanks again for reading my blog, and I hope to have a new entry soon. Until then, thank you for the support and fare thee well.