By Amanda Carney
Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team will get a second chance, with this season and with the NJCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.
The Blue Dragons earned an at large bid into national tournament, despite a Region 6 Tournament semifinal loss to Butler. Butler won the tournament, earning an automatic bid, and Seward County earned an at-large bid as well
Even though Seward County earned an at-large bid, and a couple teams ranked below the Blue Dragons were revealed as getting at-large bids before they did, Blue Dragons coach John Ontjes was not worried about not getting in.
“I wasn’t nervous about getting an at-large bid. We took second in our conference and only lost three games.” Ontjes said.
The Blue Dragons will be going to Lubbock, Texas on Monday determined prove their game. The Blue Dragons will play Western Nebraska as a No. 13 seed at 6 p.m. Monday.
The Blue Dragons are beyond ecstatic to get a second chance.
“It’s pretty sweet getting to go because we lost,” freshman guard Abby Ogle said. “We’ve lost all the important games that we have needed to win, but we still get to go to the national tournament.”
“It means everything to us,” added freshman Makayla Vannett. “We were really bummed that we lost against Butler, even the freshman.”
Ogle and Vannet are not the only people excited to get into the national tournament, so is Ontjes.
The Blue Dragons have lost their first game in each of the last two tournaments. Before that, they reached four semifinals and three national championship games from 2012-2015.
“We are just excited to continue to play and we’ll get to compete against a very talented Western Nebraska team,” Ontjes said.
The Blue Dragons and Western Nebraska have had a couple similar opponents throughout the season. These opponents being Seward County, early in the season for Western Nebraska and Iowa Western in the middle of the season. Western Nebraska lost to those two teams by a combined 17 points. Hutchinson lost twice to Seward County, once in overtime, and beat Iowa Western by 21.
“I think we need to take care of the ball better.” Ogle adds.
Ontjes said that he hopes with having a few close games under their belts that there will be no more panic in close games.
“We haven’t had many close games and it has been unfortunate that the two games we have lost have lost have been close games. And we did not handle the situations very well,” Ontjes said.