Up until Saturday, the Hutchinson women’s basketball team had achieved perfection that earned it the opportunity to play for the NJCAA Division I championship.
After a season of overcoming every bit of adversity, the Blue Dragons ran into a problem in Trinity Valley (Texas) that they couldn’t solve on Saturday night at the Bicentennial Center.
In a contest between undefeated teams, Trinity Valley completed its perfect season with a XX-XX victory to claim its sixth national championship. It was the first time Hutchinson played in the title game.
A frenetic start to the game played right into Trinity Valley’s advantage. The Cardinals had superior athletes, more adept to playing in the up-tempo pace in the first five minutes.
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After Trinity Valley gained its first lead in the opening minute, it never trailed again. Keuna Flax made three three-pointers in the opening minutes to give the Cardinals a 18-9 lead.
Flax made her first five shot from beyond the arc, the last for a 32-19 lead. Hutchinson would flirt with trimming into the lead, but did not produce enough defensive stops.
Hutchinson had defeated every opponent it had played entering Saturday, yet its schedule had not prepared it to face the athleticism that Trinity Valley offered. The Blue Dragons turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and made 9 of 25 shots as Trinity Valley took a 37-25 lead into the break.
The Blue Dragons cut the lead to nine once, but they became deflated when Trinity Valley dropped in three-pointer after three-pointer to extend its lead. The Cardinals’ lead ballooned to as many as 20 in the second half.
The Blue Dragons finished 36-1, capping the program’s most successful season in its 38 years. The second-place finish marks the best finish in school history.