Rock Valley women head to National Tournament for third time in four years

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) Rock Valley women's basketball is back in the NJCAA DIII National Tournament for a third time in four years after beating Columbus State 86-70 to claim the Great Lakes District Championship on Saturday.

The Golden Eagles were led in scoring by Marissa Kershner. The Hononegah grad scored 25 points, including shooting 5-11 from three.

Sophomore Alexcia Neal says the loss in last year's district title game was a big motivator for this season.

"It's great that we won," said Neal. "Because last year, it was tough. That team (Owens) was pretty good. But this year, (Columbus State) gave us a little push, but we held our own."

RVC led by only six after the first, but ballooned the lead to 14 at the half, despite shooting just 35.7%. Head coach Darryl Watkins just asked his players to believe in his message and they would get to the National Tournament, which will be held at Rock Valley College.

"It's great. The Region Tournament, we told them, just get back home," said Watkins. "Get back home and everything else will lay itself out and they're back home. They're playing with a high confidence level as you saw today. We're going to try to ride that wave going into the National Tournament."