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Lady Warriors have a lot in common with Thunderbirds

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
March 20, 2001
SALINA, Kan. The Lady Warriors of East Central Community College have never played the Thunderbirds from Cloud County (Kan.) Community College, but the two have an awful lot in common this year.
Both are in the NJCAA Women's National Basketball Championship this week when neither was expected to be here.
They will face each other tonight at 6:15 p.m. in the feature game of opening day action at the Bicentennial Center.
ECCC, 22-5, knocked off seventh-ranked Copiah-Lincoln 74-71 in the semifinals of the Region 23 Tournament, then whipped Northwest Mississippi 91-71 in the title game.
Cloud County, 27-7, bumped off fifth-ranked Independence (Kan.) 88-76 in the semifinals of the Region 6 Tournament and followed that up with a 77-73 overtime win over Seward County (Kan.) in the championship game.
Seward entered the contest 33-0 and ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA, while Independence was 31-1 before losing in the semifinals.
Seward had pummeled Cloud County by 43 and 21 points during the regular season. In a similar scenario, ECCC had lost by 23 and 30 to Co-Lin in regular-season action before beating the Lady Wolves in the regional.
The Thunderbirds, located approximately 45 miles north of here in Concordia, are making their first trip to the nationals since 1983 and their fourth in school history.
ECCC's only other appearance in 1994 resulted in a seventh-place finish.
Both teams' colors are black and gold.
ECCC averages 79.0 points per game while giving up 67.7. Cloud County scores at a 78.3 per game clip while allowing 62.6.
The Lady Warriors are looking forward to seeing how they stack up with the hometown favorites.
Both start 5-foot-3 sophomore scoring whizzes at guard.
Cloud County goes with point guard Miklannet Tennal who averages 20.9 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. She was named MVP of the Region 6 Tournament.
Tennal isn't lacking for confidence. Following the T-Birds' win over Independence in which she scored 35 points, Tennal said, "I love that man-to-man defense (from the opposition). Can't play me man-to-man. I told them at the beginning, you can't press us.' Five minutes later, they took it off."
Tennal is an 87.2 percent free throw shooter. The T-Birds as a team shoot 74.8 percent at the charity stripe.
ECCC counters Tennal with Nicole Cox, a sophomore from Lake who averages 14.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. Cox hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points in ECCC's win over Co-Lin.
Both teams suffered potentially disastrous personnel losses in the early season. ECCC lost sophomore forward Sasha Lilly to a knee injury in the second game. Cloud County lost point guard Martina Mihailovic to a knee injury in the preseason.
Margo Porter, a 5-foot-7 sophomore guard from Louisville, leads ECCC in scoring with a 16.3 average. She averages 5.6 rebounds and has scored in double figures in ECCC's last 14 games.
Anna Udicova, a 6-foot-2 sophomore post from Presov, Slovakia, adds 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Nikki Lacour, a 5-foot-8 freshman guard from Natchitoches, La., gives Pace's team 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Off the ECCC bench will come 5-foot-9 freshman La'Shonda Ford (3.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg), 5-foot-11 sophomore Alberta Norman (7.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg), and 5-foot-8 freshman Lori Cumberland (2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg).
Cloud County opens with 5-foot-9 sophomore Laura Herman (14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), 5-foot-9 sophomore N'Keisa Richardson (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), 5-foot-9 sophomore Paulette Valentine (12.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg), and 5-foot-6 freshman Heidi Fuchser (2.8 ppg, 2.0 assists) with Tennal in its starting lineup.
Top T-Bird subs are 5-foot-7 freshman Jenny Beamon (4.9 ppg), 6-0 freshman Theresia Smith (2.3 ppg), 5-foot-4 freshman Adriana Castaneda (3.4 ppg), and 5-foot-6 freshman Arenda Jackson (3.2 ppg).
Thanks to the Internet and some coaching friends, Pace has a pretty good idea what his team is up against.
Both head coaches believe in a team concept.
Pace agrees.
All of ECCC's games may be heard on 98.3 FM, WSSI-Carthage.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.

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