HIGHLAND, Kansas -- Hot Springs alum Berniezha Tidwell and Highland Community College will head into next week's National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament as the No. 3 seed in Division II and the only remaining undefeated team in the country.
Highland (32-0) was ranked No. 3 in the country in the final NJCAA Division II poll of the regular season on Feb. 27 out of more than 130 schools in the classification. The Scotties were seeded No. 3 this week in the 16-team 2018 NJCAA Division II Women's Basketball Championship to be held next week in Harrison.
The Scotties are matched up No. 14 seed Macomb Community College (25-6), from Michigan. They are scheduled for the first game of the tournament Tuesday at 9 a.m. at North Arkansas College's Pioneer Pavilion.
The winner will advance to play in the second round against No. 6 Cape Fear (27-5), from North Carolina, or No. 11 seeded Kankakee (23-7), from Illinois, who will play in the second game Tuesday. Their second-round matchup is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Highland had a bye into the second round of the NJCAA Region VI Women's Division II Basketball Tournament after finishing 8-0 in Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Division II play, including two regular season wins against No. 11 Johnson County Community College (25-8) and two more over No. 10 Labette Community College (23-5).
The Scotties defeated defeated Kansas City Kansas Community College (21-11), 86-61, on March 3 in the semifinals at home in Ben Allen Field House behind 29 points from Mariane De Caravalho. The team secured a spot in the national tournament with a 71-51 victory over Johnson County on March 7 at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas. Tidwell had 12 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes off of the bench.
Tidwell signed with Sam Houston State in 2015 after leading Hot Springs to its fourth girls' state championship in program history alongside Ashley Clayborn and Tiaunna Watkins. The Lady Trojans followed in their footsteps Saturday with a 50-47 win in the Class 5A state championship game against two-time defending state champion Watson Chapel at Bank of the Ozarks Arena.
As a sophomore now at Highland, Tidwell is second on the team in scoring with 15.1 points per game despite starting only one game and averaging the fifth-most minutes. She also averages 3.7 rebounds and is second on the team with almost three assists per game.
The 16-team field at the national tournament includes schools from 14 states. No. 1 Monroe Community College (29-2), in New York, earned the top seed and will face No. 16 seed Harcum College (20-13), in Pennsylvania. Monroe repeated as the national championship in 2011 and 2012.
No. 2 Kirkwood Community College (31-3), in Iowa, earned the two-seed and is matched up in the first round with No. 15 seed Gogebic Community College (17-13), in Michigan. Kirkwood defeated Johnson County, 61-46, in last year's final against Johnson County in Harrison to finish 37-0 to add to four consecutive titles from 2007-10.
Other ranked teams in the field are No. 5 Owens Community College (25-4), Ohio; No. 6 Mesa Community College (26-6), Arizona; No. 7 Cape Fear Community College, North Carolina; No. 8 NorthArk (19-6); and No. 14 Illinois Central College (27-7), which lost the 2016 championship game, 81-59, to Kansas City Kansas.
The rest of the teams in the field are Ancilla College (25-5), Indiana; Bryant and Stratton College (19-12), Wisconsin; Kankakee Community College (23-7), Illinois; Cecil College (23-5), Maryland; and Union County (25-5), New Jersey.
The tournament will continue through March 24 with the championship game at 7:30 p.m.Sports on 03/14/2018
Print Headline: Tidwell, Highland seeded third at national tournament