By Doug Stauffer
Champs again! Crowning National Champions in Northwest Florida is becoming habit forming with the NWFSC basketball programs. The college’s women’s basketball team did it again, winning the 2023 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. This is the second national championship for the Lady Raiders, having been crowned two years ago. The men’s basketball team filled in the 2022 gap by winning the championship. That’s the three-peat: Lady Raiders (2021), Raiders (2022), Lady Raiders (2023). Be sure to get your season tickets for 2024.
The Lady Raiders’ two national titles are the first in program history. President Devin Stephenson congratulated the team and their coach, saying, “I couldn’t be prouder of the Lady Raiders and coach Bart Walker. It is an outstanding achievement and a testament to our commitment to excellence at Northwest Florida State College. The best truly is our standard.”
The Lady Raiders defeated the dynasty-driven Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals in a 66-63 nail-biter. The game started with Trinity Valley jumping out to a 9-0 lead in the first four minutes of the contest, but the Lady Raiders remained poised, resilient, and determined.
“We matured a lot and we had to match their physicality,” Burt said. “That was the biggest thing was we got tougher as the season came on. We found our team’s heart this week and that’s why we won this.”
In a game with nine lead changes and eight ties, neither team led by more than five points in the second half. Keeping the game within reach helped Mya Pierfax ice the game by making two free throws with 5.5 seconds in overtime.
The action took place at the Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock Christian University, Texas. The Raiders spotted their opponent 10 points in the first quarter before mounting a furious comeback. Their dominating defense along with an exceptional execution on offense made the winning difference.
Sophomore Sakima Walker was named the Most Valuable Player of the 2023 NJCAA DI Women’s Basketball Championship. Her 23 points led the Raiders with Destiney McPhaul, Zayla Tinner adding 11 points each. Sakima recorded 80 points and 42 rebounds throughout the national tournament.
Fans can follow NWFSC’s athletics on Twitter by following @NWFRaiders or by visiting NWFRaiders.com for more information.