Concocordia coach Drew Olson and his staff looked on at last weekend’s girls state basketball tournament at Pinnacle Bank Arena and came to a conclusion that bodes well for the Bulldogs’ upcoming journey in the NAIA Division II Women’s National Championship.
“We realized that 10 of our 16 athletes had made a state championship game at the high school level,” Olson said. “They won’t be intimidated in postseason play. They know what to expect and how to handle it.”
By looking at the results this season, it should come as no surprise that the Bulldogs’ roster is loaded with former high school stars. They powered through their schedule with a 31-2 record, which put them in a tie for fourth in the Concordia record book for wins in a season, and wrapped up GPAC regular- and postseason titles on their way to one of four No. 1 seeds in the NAIA tournament.
“This is a special team and we knew it from the beginning,” Olson said. “They have great strength and balance as a group. They pick each other up when they have to. The seniors do all the little things for us. They’re the glue, and we’ve got great production from our underclassmen. It’s a tough group.”
The Bulldogs have had success this season for a bevy of reasons, but it starts with their own Big Three. Mary Janovich (sister of former Husker football player Andy Janovich), Quinn Wragge and Philomena “Philly” Lammers earned all-conference first-team honors recently. The accolades didn’t stop there for the talented trio: Janovich was named GPAC defensive player of the year and Lammers, a graduate of Millard West, picked up GPAC freshman of the year.
“This team is so focused and plays with an intensity that’s fun to be a part of,” Lammers said. “It’s great to be where we’re at right now. I always wanted to be part of that, got a spot in a national tournament and to be here already, I’m really blessed.”
Lammers was part of the Millard West team that finished as runner-up in the girls state tournament last season and adds to the players with postseason experience on the Concordia roster.
“We all understand that it's a lot of pressure, but it’s also just a game,” she said. “We don’t want to get over-hyped. Any team can beat another on any given day, so we have to focus on one game at a time.”
Several of the Bulldogs were on the Concordia team that made it all the way to the national title game in 2015. They’ll now look to take the next step in their quest for a title.
“We’re not going to try to win five games at once,” Olson said. “The tournament is a grueling test, but we just need to keep doing what we have done this season. Discipline and maturity.”
Concordia tips off the tournament against eighth-seeded Bryan on Wednesday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
The Bulldogs previously beat the Lions 76-35 in the opening round of the 2015 tournament.