Gulf Coast Claims 4th National Women’s JUCO Title
Two years ago, Roonie Scovel was retired with no intention of returning to the sideline where she had led Gulf Coast to three NJCAA championships. On Saturday night at the conclusion of her second season back on the bench after a two-year retirement, she got to watch her Lady Commodores celebrate a fourth national title.
Scovel’s top-seeded Gulf Coast (32-1) team smothered No. 6 seed Trinity Valley 63-47 in the final of the NJCAA Division I Women’s Championship. It was a matchup of two of the most storied programs in JUCO women’s basketball, with Trinity Valley (31-4) coming into the game with a record eight national titles.
In the end, it was Gulf Coast’s 6-foot-3 frontcourt duo of Kristina King and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau that proved to be the difference, as they combined for 29 points, 30 rebounds, and 11 blocked shots and took co-Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before,” Scovel said of the two being named co-MVPs. “It’s amazing because they both played great, but probably the best thing about it was the response of their teammates. Those two get a lot of attention and publicity, but seeing how excited their teammates were for them shows what kind of team this is. These ladies played with each other and for each other every day and now they’re national champions.”
King averaged 20.8 points, 12 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks over the four games in Lubbock, while Caron-Goudreau put up 18.5 points, 14 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks per contest.
In the final, it was Caron-Goudreau leading the way with 16 points, 17 rebounds, and six blocks, scoring 14 points and making four 3-pointers in the second half to help the Lady Commodores pull away.
It was just a one-point lead for GC at halftime and it remained a one-point margin until Caron-Goudreau finally snapped an 0 for 4 shooting spell from deep by knocking in back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Lady Commodores up 36-29 with 4:22 left in the third.
It was an eight-point margin after three thanks to a short jumper by Castro in the closing seconds of the quarter, with a jumper by King and a transition two from Raven Fox putting GC up 48-38 with 7:08 left in the fourth.
Caron-Goudreau then hit her third three of the second half to push the lead to 13, and added her fourth a few minutes later to make it 56-42 with 3:49 remaining.
That was more than enough cushion against the Cardinals, who shot just 4 of 16 from the field in the final quarter and hit 28 percent for the game, as they struggled against the size and shot blocking ability of Caron-Goudreau and King.
While those two dominated the defensive interior, Scovel said it was the perimeter shooting of Caron-Goudreau in the second half that broke the ice for her team.
“In the beginning of the game it kind of appeared that both teams were frozen and nervous,” she said. “It looked like we couldn’t move. We played really poor. We didn’t shoot it well, we made bad decisions, we just didn’t look that good and I think that was nerves.
“When Audrey hit those threes, we relaxed and all of the sudden were very aggressive defensively and started contesting shots and blocking shots, and we got rebounds and got out in transition. I thought that was the defining moment of the game.”
King put in 13 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocked shots, while Maria Castro had 10 points and six rebounds, and Amanda Paschal nine points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Ty Purifoy had eight points and three assists in 27 minutes off the bench after going scoreless in two minutes against New Mexico in Friday’s semifinal.
Perhaps most remarkable was the effort of Castro, who learned during the trip to Lubbock that her mother was diagnosed with cancer and would need surgery. After struggling to just six total points in the previous two games, she scored six of her 10 points in the third to help GC move ahead for good.
“I just couldn’t believe she played the way she did with the emotions she was dealing with,” Scovel said. “Maria was outstanding. I also thought Ty was huge. Audrey and Kris did their thing, but we’d be looking at something different if Ty hadn’t come in and done what she did. (The Cardinals) were playing way off of (starting point guard Bri Williams), but Ty came in and hit two big threes to loosen the defense up. We stayed with her in the second half and she played tremendous defense for us.”
The Lady Commodores needed a stellar defensive effort on a night when they shot just 30 percent from the field. They made up for it by outrebounding the Cardinals 55-45 and committing only seven turnovers in the game. It was an impressive display of ball control for a team that had turned it over 59 times in the three previous games.
“We just handled their pressure,” Scovel said. “I think we had a couple of turnovers against it, but Ty played so well for us and we just handled the press and didn’t let it bother us.”
The result is a championship for a Lady Commodores team that Scovel deemed an overachiever all year long. Before the season, Scovel said she believed it would’ve been a great accomplishment just for Gulf Coast to make the national tournament, let alone win it.
“When we started this thing, we just tried to figure out how we could get an at-large bid,” she said. “We talked about that a lot before the conference season. We said that we’ve got to win some of these games here so maybe we’ll get an at-large after the state tournament.
“So for us to not only win the conference but to win the region and then come win the national tournament, it shows how much we did overachieve and manage to hide the weaknesses and accentuate the positives. I’m just proud of them. It’s a great moment for these young ladies to experience.”
TRINITY VALLEY (47)
Swain 3 0-0 8, Lyons 5 2-2 13, Davenport 3 0-0 8, Singleton 3 1-3 7, Mathis 2 2-2 7, Mullins 1 0-0 2, Kuykendall 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 5-7 47.
GULF COAST (63)
Paschal 2 4-8 9, King 6 1-4 13, Williams 0 0-0 0, Castro 3 4-4 10, Caron-Goudreau 5 2-2 16, Purifoy 2 2-2 8, Fox 3 0-1 6, O’Neal 0 1-2 1, Edwards 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 14-23 63.
Trinity Valley 15 8 13 11 — 47
Gulf Coast 13 11 20 19 — 63
3-point field goals: Gulf Coast 7 (Caron-Goudreau 4, Purifoy 2, Paschal), Trinity Valley 6 (Davenport 2, Swain 2, Lyons, Mathis). Total fouls: Trinity Valley 18, Gulf Coast 8. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none.