By GARY STALLARD
Byron Coleman had this day in mind way back before his Lady Roadrunner basketball team began its 2018-2019 campaign.
Knowing his group possessed the potential for a national championship tournament run, Coleman scheduled some of the toughest teams he could find in the pre-conference portion of the schedule. There was never any doubt about facing brutal competition within Region XIV, but Coleman wanted his players to get a taste of what lay ahead should AC book a berth to Lubbock.
“We always said we’d play anybody anywhere, and we did that,” Coleman said. “We played a great non-conference schedule knowing our conference is already so tough. We scheduled opponents we knew would help us if we just took care of our own business. It worked out well for us.”
On Monday morning, Coleman and the Lady Roadrunners joined community members for a Selection Show watch party on the Angelina College campus. They waited anxiously to hear the selection committee’s seeding announcement, and when the Lady ‘Runners saw their team listed as the No. 4 seed, the entire room erupted in applause.
“It’s great to get all these people from the community together and join us in watching this live,” Coleman said. “You know, you always see these show on TV with Division I basketball, so for us to get the chance to experience it ourselves, man, you can’t do anything but smile. I’m happy that the girls had the chance to enjoy this.”
As expected, undefeated and No. 1-ranked Wabash Valley earned the No. 1 seed, followed by Gulf Coast State at No. 2 and Shelton State at No. 3. Two more Region XIV teams – Tyler Junior College and Trinity Valley Community College – earned at-large bids, proving Coleman’s statement about the strength of the conference.
The tournament tips off on Monday, March 18; the Lady Roadrunners will play at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23 against the winner of the Hutchinson/Western Nebraska game.
The national tournament championship game will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 23. All games take place at the Rip Griffin Center on the Lubbock Christian University campus in Lubbock and will be live streamed on NJCAA TV.
It’s a lot to absorb for a coaching staff and team representing the first Angelina College women’s basketball team to compete for a national title. Coleman just wants to ensure he and his players don’t forget to live in the moment.
“These kids know this will be something that 10 or 20 years from now we’ll be getting together to reminisce,” Coleman said. “We were joking on the bus that we needed to write a book about all the trials and tribulations we endured in getting to this point. They’re cherishing this, and they understand the value of the moment.
“We’ll remember this forever.”
The e-mail address for AC’s Sports Information Director is firstname.lastname@example.org.