Lady Raiders Coach Says They Deserved At-Large Bid to Nationals

Niceville, FL---Three area juco coaches are preparing their respective teams for a trip to Salina Kansas for the women's national tournament next week.

That is unprecedented thanks to the change this year to a 24 team tournament with four at-large teams now able to make it in.

Two of those four at-large teams coming from the Panhandle Conference, both semifinalists in the state tournament, Chipola and Northwest Florida.

The Lady Raiders losing to Chipola in that semifinal but a few days later, coach Patrick Harrington and his players getting word they were getting an at-large bid to play in the tourney in Salina.

That state bid not coming until Monday which made it a rather nervous weekend for coach Harrington and his squad.

"As I saw the results come in from some of the other tournaments and saw that the favorites had won, I could look back and say of the remaining teams, you know not only are we one of the top five or six in the country, but we're easily one of the top five or six teams that could even be considered. So then it was just a matter of waiting on Monday for the official news."

Coach says it's a testament to their league that 2 of the four at large teams were from the Panhandle Conference. Northwest 24-4, all four losses in conference. Northwest will practice through Friday and bus it to Arkansas midday Friday, practice at Arkansas Tech. Then finish the trip to Kansas Saturday.

Their first game is noon Monday against Itawamba out of Mississippi.