On to the Semis: Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams Win SCAC Quarterfinals

Both Tiger squads will face Austin College at home this Sunday


Trinity Department of Athletics

Junior forward Hailey Coleman lays up the ball in a game against Southwestern. Coleman led the Tigers with 19 points in their SCAC Tournament victory over the Pirates.

Last weekend, both the women’s and men’s basketball teams hosted the quarterfinal round of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Tournament. The women’s team crushed Southwestern University 93-43 while the men’s team escaped with the 84-81 win over Schreiner University. Both teams will advance and host the semifinal round against Austin College this Sunday, March 14.

Because of COVID-19, the SCAC Conference Tournament looks very different this year. Pre-COVID-19, the conference was held in a single weekend with one campus chosen to host. However, this year the tournament has been spread out over three weekends, with each round being played on a different weekend. Each weekend, the highest seeded team will host the game. Since both Tiger teams are the top seed in their respective SCAC tournament, the road to the SCAC Championships runs through San Antonio.

“I think last Friday’s game was a great team win. I feel that based on our performance, and having a game under our belt in the tournament gives us more confidence and reassurance going into this week’s matchup,” junior forward Hailey Coleman said.

Coleman led the women’s team with 19 points while junior guard AJ Clark led the men’s team with 22 points of his own, helping the men’s team pull out a close win against a Schreiner team that they had just beaten twice in a row at the end of the regular season.

“Beating a team three times in a row is hard enough, but the week leading up to the game was especially stressful,” Clark said. “The team has been through a lot this year. We have overcome every obstacle thrown our way thus far, so winning such a close game this week exemplified the team’s toughness and perseverance.”

Typically, the winner of the SCAC Tournament advances to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament, but all NCAA Tournaments have been cancelled for winter sports. As a result, winning the SCAC Championship is the top goal for the Tigers this season.

“We love the SCAC tournament every year, but this year, I think everyone is viewing it a bit differently,” said Cameron Hill, head women’s basketball coach. “This conference championship has replaced the national tournament as the ultimate accomplishment for this year, so for us, it’s a huge deal that we are taking very seriously.”

Jimmy Smith, head men’s basketball coach, explained that while it’s disappointing that the NCAA tournament was canceled, their season-long goal of winning the SCAC Championship hasn’t changed.

“We accomplished the first half of the goal by winning the regular season and earning the number one seed in the SCAC tournament. Now the task is to take advantage of the home court advantage that we earned and finish the job,” Smith said.

Many players thought that they wouldn’t get a season at all this year, and while teams have had to deal with increased safety regulations and uncertainty about whether games would be canceled or not, Hill said that any chance to play has been a privilege.

“We have put far too much into this to take one second of it for granted,” Hill said.

With spirits and gratitude high, both teams are ready to face Austin College this weekend. According to Coleman, the team’s energy levels are increasing as game time approaches.

“Everyone’s mentality going into this week is to keep the energy and momentum of what we’ve been playing at these past few weeks and [to focus on] the success of the team as a whole,” Coleman said.

The men’s team plays at 1 p.m. on Sunday followed by the women’s team at 4 p.m. Both games will take place in Calgaard Gym and are closed to the public, but fans can stream the games on the Tiger Network.

“The team feels good and is looking forward to facing Austin College again this weekend. We were only able to play them once this year so we’re motivated to get to see them again and keep our season alive. The tournament is so much fun with its high stakes, so we’re all very eager to get out there again this weekend,” Clark said.