NPCC national tournament preview

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The NPCC women's basketball team is preparing for the NJCAA tournament, but still are riding high off the win that sent them there.

"I just thought about how we're the underdogs, we just came together and worked hard for that moment and just pulled through," said sophomore guard Nahatabaa Nacona, who hit the game tying free throws, and game winning layup with under a minute left in the game.

"Honestly it was unbelievable, because we were down thirteen, I believe. Just to come back from that was just amazing, and it actually hit me that we're going to Arkansas, we're going to Nationals," said sophomore guard Madisyn Francis, who had 24 points in the win.

After winning only four games in their first 26 games of the season, the Knights have now won four straight. The players have an explanation for clicking late in the season.

"I think it's because we finally found that chemistry we've been looking for," Nacona said.

But who can be given credit for the team coming together?

Honestly, coach," Franics said. "Everybody else, they doubted us, basically telling us we had a good run, and coach, he didn't give up on us."

The Knights are the 16-seed, playing against top-seeded Illinois Central on Mar. 19. The Knights have gotten used to being the underdog, and they don't plan on changing much in their gameplan.

"We're not going to change anything, we're not going to do anything different than we've been doing, especially the last four games, because there's something right there," head coach Jeff Thurman said. "It's a challenge, we're going to embrace that challenge because we're very excited about the opportunity to play down there."

"Just keep playing, nothing changed... defense, it all starts on defense," Francis said.

Being from Illinois, coach Thurman is familiar with the Knights' opponent

"Very familiar with ICC and who they have. They're a well-oiled machine, been that way as long as I can remember. They're well coached, very disciplined, shoot the ball at a high level. But, we're playing our best basketball right now and we're going to get after it defensively," Thurman said.

The team will leave for Arkansas on Sunday morning, but the NPCC staff, and Knights fans held a send-off for the team on Friday afternoon.

At the send-off, coach Thurman addressed the crowd, saying, "I want to thank everyone for being here today, and their continued support all year. We couldn't have done it without each and every one of you. I'll be honest with you, I don't think we ever imagined we'd be in this situation in late March. But that's the testament, and the heart, and perseverance of our student athletes this year. They bought in from day one, and as a coach, I couldn't be more proud of what we've accomplished on the floor and in the classroom this year."