By James Bartolo
The ThunderWolf Women’s Basketball Team won the RMAC Shootout title for the sixth time in school history.
“We completed a big circle that we were making this year. That was a big way to close it out and I really appreciate my team staying on the same page at the same time,” ThunderWolf head coach Curtis Loyd said.
Point guard Katie Cunningham was named tournament MVP after scoring 26 points in a 84-69 championship win over Black Hills State last night. Cunningham said the Black Hills State defense “honored” her teammates, giving her opportunities to score. “Because they (her teammates) are so good that left me open,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham also had nine assists and 14 rebounds. “Your point guard has to know your personality,” Loyd said. “I can tell she has my personality, very competitive and she brings it every single night.”
Black Hills State led for the majority of the first quarter. “We came out a little bit over the top,” Loyd said. “Once we settled down, we got a few stops and a few easy scores down in the post.” With 2:48 left in the first quarter, a steal and layup by Jennah Knafelc gave the ThunderWolves a 15-14 lead.
The ThunderWolves made 34 trips to the charity stripe and shot 79.4 percent. Cunningham made 9-of-12 and forward Lauren Heyn made all eight of her attempts. “This is just a testament to how hard we all have been putting in the work, it was just working tonight,” Heyn said.
Molly Rohrer scored 20 points and Taylor Long had 12. In 12 minutes, sophomore forward Khiya Adams added eight bench points and shot 4-of-6 from the field.
The ThunderWolves were outscored in the third quarter, but held Black Hills State scoreless in the final three minutes of the game. “We do have leaders on this team and this team has a mission. It was just fun to step back and watch them.” Loyd said.
A selection show for the regional tournament will be held tonight. The ThunderWolves enter regional play later this week. Cunningham said her team’s experience in the RMAC Shootout will help her team in regionals.
“We know what’s working and what’s not working. We grew in these past two games,” Cunningham said. “I think it made us that much better. I’m pretty confident that we will do well.”