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The Triton College women's basketball team has defied the odds all season en route to reaching their first regional championship game appearance in 22 years. In order to win the NJCAA Region IV District D crown Saturday, the Lady Trojans Triton will have to defeat Kankakee Community College for the first team in the school's history.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove.
The third-seeded Lady Trojans (23-9) earned a spot in the title game with a convincing 87-71 win in last weekend's regional semifinal game over second-seeded Carl Sandburg College, who entered the contest ranked No. 16 in the nation. Triton's 3-2 zone defense held the top three-point shooting team in the country in check. Sandburg (21-8) shot 12-of-41 from long range and with those misses, came plenty of rebounds for the Lady Trojans who had a dominating 56-38 advantage on the glass.
Coleanna Funches, a freshman out of Proviso West High School, had a huge game for Triton with 19 points, 25 rebounds and 7 steals. The performance earned her NJCAA Division II Player of the Week honors.
But the Lady Trojans had another great team effort as four other players scored in double-figures. Taylor Pate (Proviso West) scored 19 points and Candace Madison (Proviso West) finished with 13 points. Tashianna Walton (Proviso West) and Alondra Chavarria (Leyden) scored 12 and 10 points respectively.
Triton led for the final 37 minutes of the game, and enjoyed a 24-point advantage at one point.
"Sandburg is a great three-point shooting team and we executed our plan enough to find success," said Triton head coach Kellee Robertson. "We played a 3-2 zone and dominated the boards inside."
Now for Robertson and the Lady Trojans, the focus shifts to the top seed, Kankakee. The Cavaliers (26-5) were ranked in the top 15 most of the season before dropping out of the rankings in the final NJCAA poll. Kankakee defeated Triton 79-71 in the team's lone regular season meeting on Dec. 17.
"Kankakee is a much different team (than Sandburg) so we will adjust according," Robertson said. "We are excited about the opportunity to play in the regional championship game and I am convinced that the end score will reflect the team that wants it more."
If you can't make it to Sugar Grove, the game will be streamed live online by Waubonsee. The website is www.waubonsee.edu/experience/athletics/. Click on "NJCAA Region IV Basketball Tournament" and then select "Watch Live" aside the game listing.
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