Lady Flames Fall To Westmont, 71-65, In National Title Game

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


FRANKFORT, Ky. – The one-two combination of Westmont College’s Tugce Canitez and Kelsie Sampson was simply too much for the battling Lee basketball team in the championship final of the 2013 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship.

Canitez was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after collecting 25 points and pulling down 20 rebounds.

Sampson earned a spot on the all-tournament team and led the Warriors’ surge in the second half. She also had 25 points and six rebounds.

It was the first time that either Lee or Westmont had reached the championship game. The 71-65 win by the California club was the institution’s eighth crown, and denied Lee’s basketball squad of a NAIA title as they depart for the Gulf South and NCAA Division II.

“They played really well,” said coach Marty Rowe, who quickly pointed out that he was very proud of everything his team had accomplished this season. “Westmont executed their game plan really well and we couldn’t find answers for their two big girls down low. They were hard to guard and they got position on us most of the night down in the lane.

“We left the NAIA exactly how we wanted to, with the exception of winning this game. We simply got beat by a good basketball team tonight.”

Canitez connected on a runner in the lane to give the Warriors a 71-65 lead with nine seconds left. Lee (34-3) had its last two opportunities blocked as the final seconds ran off the clock.

Hollie German helped get the Lady Flames off to an early start and scored her team’s first nine points, including the first of four 3-pointers to open the game. Lee’s lead grew to eight, 16-8 seven minutes into the final half on another trey by German.

However, in the game of runs, Westmont took its first lead of the night, 17-16, by outscoring the Lady Flames 9-0 as Sampson knocked down a pair of free throws.

The Warriors picked up the defensive intensity as the two talented teams traded runs over the next few minutes. The halftime ended on a bucket by German that cut the Warriors lead to 34-30.

Lee got off to a quick start and was the aggressors to open the second 20 minutes, scoring four points to tie the game at 34 at the 19:31 mark. Coach Rowe’s club would continue to fight back and tie the score two other times during the second period, but on each occasion Westmont scored on its next possession to quickly cool the Lee runs. The Warriors earned their first double-digit lead of the game with 4:42 left on Sampson’s 25th point of the night.

Lee stepped up again and got back-to-back buckets by Jenna Adams and a 3-pointer from German to quickly cut the Westmont advantage back to three points with less than one minute remaining. However, the late surge proved to be too little too late.

The Warriors finished the game shooting over 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. Westmont also dominated the glass, outrebounding Lee 45-27.

The Lady Flames, as coach Rowe explained, never shot the ball well the entire tournament. In the final, they converted 39 percent for the game and struggled again from 3-point range (8-of-25).

“I thought we played hard,” Rowe stressed. “They are the best offensive team we played during the entire tournament."

German, who had an outstanding tournament and was named to the all-tournament first team, was the game’s leading scorer with 27 points. Adams, who was also an all-tournament selection, finished with 19 to go along with seven rebounds. Karley Miller added eight points and five boards.

The well-played game saw the Lady Flames turn the basketball over just five times compared to 10 assists. Brooke Hamby had four assists and German totaled three.

Westmont guard Esther Lee hurt the Lady Flames by knocking down 4-of-5 3-point attempts and finished with 12 points. Celina Gougis also contributed for the champions, scoring 12 points and garnering seven rebounds.

“I’m extremely happy for our seniors (Hamby, Julia Zimmerman, Mary Jackson and four-year player Rachel Lockhart),” praised Rowe. “I think people really appreciate the hard work our team put in over this run. Setting a new school record for number of victories and reaching the NAIA final for the first time is something our team can always be very proud of.

“From where we started at the beginning of the season to this point, I’m pleased with this club and what we accomplished. We are ready for the next step next year.”




Tuesday Volleyball Roundup

Hixson beat Ooltewah in three games, 25-21, 20-25, 25-11. Ooltewah Stats: Macy Milliken: 3 kills, 1 ace, 6 digs Ally Chernak: 2 kills, 3 aces, 8 digs Mabry Carpenter, 4 aces, 8 digs Cheyanne Sales: 11 kills, 4 blocks Madalyn Mills: 15 digs Sakari Pack: 4 kills Ariel Reed: 9 digs Tyler Sullivan: 6 kills, 2 digs Audrey Jennings: 1 kill, 1 dig Hixson Stats:  ... (click for more)

Former Pioneer Football Players To Be Recognized At Sept. 8 Game

East Ridge High School football coach Tim James is inviting all former Pioneer football players back for a special night at Raymond James Stadium/Shanks Field.   James, who has followed in his father’s footsteps coaching at East Ridge, has earmarked the Brainerd game on Sept. 8 as a homecoming of sorts for anyone who has donned the Orange and White.  “We would love ... (click for more)

Girlfriend Says Wright Was Driving Her PT Cruiser When He Left With Pair Whose Bodies Were Found At Cemetery

The girlfriend of William Howard Wright testified Tuesday that Wright and "Little Tony" were with two youths whose bodies were afterward found in a cemetery at Shepherd. General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck bound two counts of criminal homicide and especially aggravated robbery to the Grand Jury against Wright. A 17-year-old is facing similar charges. The girlfriend ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Police Pay Increases Announced

Chattanooga Police officers will be earning more under a $1.4 million pay improvement plan announced Tuesday. New officers would get increases in each of their first six years with the department, which has been dealing with a number of newly trained officers going to other cities. City officers now make $35,913 upon joining the force. Under the plan, they will receive about ... (click for more)

The Soul Of Chattanooga Is In Trouble

As a child growing up in the Chattanooga area, at an early age I became fascinated with the history that cloaks the city. In those days there was enough pollution to cover the town and its history but that didn't stop tourists from coming to visit Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and the Chickamauga battlefield.     Chattanooga's leadership was not very far sighted ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Ordinary To Extraordinary

A handsome black guy, from the looks of it still in high school, appeared in a video during A Celebration of Valor luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center Tuesday afternoon and described a Medal of Honor winner. Easily over 500 were there, including our famed Charles Coolidge, and all heard this young achiever say, “A Medal winner if an ordinary person who performs in an extraordinary ... (click for more)