By Bailey Terry
The Lady Dragon basketball team traveled to Salina for the NJCAA tournament championship game on March 21 and played Chipola, who was ranked No. two in the tournament, and lost 46-54.
The Dragons ended their season with a record of 36-1 and they were runner-up at Nationals for the second year in a row.
Five of the Dragon players are graduating and ending their careers with a record of 71-2, only losing in the championship game of the NJCAA tournament.
Alyx Bloom, Clay Center, finished her Dragon career with 14 points.
Kalani Purcell, Hamilton, New Zealand, scored 11 points, 19 rebounds, six assists, and three blocks.
With those three blocks, Purcell broke another record, having the most blocks in career with 94.
Purcell and Cynthia Petke, Yaounde, Cameroon, both made the All-Tournament team.
The Dragons trailed by as many as 15 points in the game.
Over the first 17 minutes of the game, the Dragons only made three field goals.
The Dragons were unable to overcome their difficulties from the first half.
At halftime, the Dragons were behind 24-17.
As the second half started, Chipola started an 8-0 run causing Hutch to fall behind, 32-17, but the Dragons were finally able to gain some momentum and got within six points, 39-33 with seven minutes left in the game.
With four minutes to play, Hutch fell behind once again 48-35.
The Dragons were never able to come back and they lost 46-54.
In the semifinals of the NJCAA tournament on March 19, the Dragons played Walters State and won 63-55 to advance to the championship game.
The leading scorer for the Dragons was Purcell with 21 points and eight rebounds.
Petke scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds, while Bloom had 11 points and three assists. Shakira Harding, Houma, Fla., scored eight points.
The Dragons took the lead early in the game and continued to keep it.
The score was 13-5 with 14 minutes to go, but their opponents weren’t going away and went on a 10-2 run to tie the game at 15 with 10 minutes to go.
The Dragons never gave up the lead in the first half.
As Hutch’s lead grew, after a 9-0 run, the score was 30-20 with one minute to go in the half.
Walters State cut the lead to 30-24 at halftime.
The Dragons had nine second half turnovers, which helped their opponents score some fast easy points to stay with them.
Halfway through the second half the Dragons had a lead of 47-39 until Walters State had a 10-2 run and tied the game at 52-52.
The Dragons scored 11 of the last 14 points and won the game 63-55.