Photo by Bre Rogers/Collegian: Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball players Brooklyn Betham (4), Abby Ogle (center) and Tor’e Alford (24) celebrate a 78-62 win against Seward County to win the Jayhawk West confrence on Febuary 22. Despite a 58-57 loss to Barton in the semifinals of the Region 6 tournament, the Dragons recieved an at-large bid during the March 9th selection show.

Blue Dragons receive NJCAA at-large bid

By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-Sports Editor

The 2020 NJCAA Division 1 Women’s Basketball Championship allows eight at-large bids to enter the tournament, reserved for teams that don’t win one of the 16 automatic bids.

Just as it occurred last season, the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team earned one of those spots.

“I was pretty confident [in receiving the bid] because of how our season went, winning the [Jayhawk] West and just the total record,” coach John Ontjes said. “I was confident our team had a chance to get into the tournament, looking at the other regions, other teams, to see how everything’s playing out throughout the weekend; really, I had a good feeling about it.”

Sophomore guard Abby Ogle has been a leader all season. She was a part of the 2018-19 team that made it into the tournament, again using an at-large bid, and went all the way to the semifinals.

“At first, I thought it was a little more stressful this year to find out if we got the at-large bid, just because I’m a sophomore and it could’ve all been over. Also, you want to go to nationals because you get more looks from bigger schools,” Ogle said. “But I also think it’s a little less stressful because we know how we played last year and how we got there. I feel pretty even.”

With all the success from last season, Ogle remembers some memorable moments.

“Last year, it was awesome winning and then celebrating in the locker room,” Ogle said.

Photo by Bre Rogers/Collegian: Abby Ogle (2) watches as Brooklyn Betham (4) shoots the ball during a 69-48 Region 6 quarterfinal win against Cowley County on Febuary 29th.

The Blue Dragons (28-4), the No. 13 seed, have some preparation to do before facing their first competitor of the tournament: No. 21 Tyler Junior College (23-9).

“Tyler has a forward who averages five offensive rebounds a game,” Ontjes said. “We’re going to have to stay out of foul trouble and do a really good job of keeping them in front of us. We’re going to have to be a good rebounding team.”

Tyler’s sophomore forward Felmas Koranga has 157 offensive rebounds for the season and 250 defensive rebounds.

“I think every team is going to be good in the national tournament – you’re going to have to be able to play extremely well to be able to move on,” Ontjes said.

Hutch was slated to face the Apaches at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock, Texas. However, the game has been placed on hold after the NJCAA postponed its Division 1 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, due to concerns with COVID-19, or coronavirus.

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