SNYDER — Find a way to win.
Showing resiliency all year in a season like no other, the fifth-ranked South Plains College women's basketball team did just that once again on Saturday.
Needing one final stop with the game deadlocked at 72 with under a minute remaining, South Plains held steady on the defensive end to set up a final scoring opportunity with 31 seconds to play.
The Lady Texans put the ball into the hands of sophomore guard Grace Hunter, who fired off a 3 from the left wing with four seconds to go. The ball would iron off the right side of the rim, finding its way into the hands of Viktoria Ivanova, who would put back a layup off the glass as time expired as South Plains defeated Weatherford College 74-72 to capture the Region V championship and earn an automatic berth to the NJCAA Women's Basketball National Tournament.
"We showed some resiliency when we got behind late, and just kept plugging away," South Plains head coach Ara Baten said. "This team is tough, they're tough minded, and they are able to play through adversity. That's why this year, they have had so much success because this year has been full of adversity."
Trailing 72-69 with 1:20 to go, freshman Debora Reis brought South Plains within one with a jumper off the glass. On their next possession, Weatherford would get the ball to Jasmyne Robinson, who was blocked by Reis at the bucket. Reis recovered the ball, running the length of the floor looking for the go-ahead bucket, but was fouled by Adreanna Waddle, setting up two shots at the free throw line.
Reis would make one of two to tie the game at 72 apiece with 53 seconds to play. Looking to take the lead late, Weatherford's Adela Valkova clanked a jump shot off the side of the rim, which would prove to be their final possession as South Plains' Martyna Czescik grabbed the rebound to set up the final shot.
"We have a bunch of tough kids in that locker room, and today was about heart and fight, and this was a great win for us," Baten said. "They don't give up on themselves, they don't give up on each other, and they just keep playing. We're excited to get to play in the national tournament just down the road from us, and I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to continue coaching them."
Reis finished with her 13th consecutive double-double performance, her 19th this season as the 6-foot forward from Brazil totaled 17 points and 14 rebounds, dropping in 8 of 12 shots from the field. Ivanova poured in a season-high 21 points, four boards, and three assists, connecting on 8 of 14 shots and was 4 of 7 from the 3-point line.
Sophomore Jordan Brown netted 12 points, five rebounds, and six assists, shooting 4 of 8 from the field over 31 minutes. Hunter tallied six points and a game-high nine assists as South Plains shot 44.8 percent (30-67) from the floor and dominated the glass, outrebounding the Coyotes 40-27.
Weatherford's Robinson led all scorers with 34 points and five rebounds, connecting on 10 of 14 shots and was 5 of 9 from distance over 40 minutes. Celise Bobbitt provided 11 points off the bench for the Coyotes who shot 38.1 percent (24-63) from the field and 50 percent (5-10) from 3.
South Plains will be back on the floor at the NJCAA Women's Basketball National Tournament April 19-24 at the Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock. The 2021 selection show will air live on the NJCAA Network beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, which will unveil the 24-team bracket.
NJCAA Network Selection Show: https://www.njcaa.org/network