North Idaho College coach Greg Crimp has plenty of reason to celebrate NIC’s season even if it ends in a loss today.
The Cardinals are the first of five teams Crimp has taken to nationals to play in a trophy game.
NIC (29-5) assured itself no worse than a sixth-place finish with a stirring 83-77 win over Louisburg (N.C.) Thursday.
“It means so much to me for the kids, because this is the greatest group of kids that I’ve ever been involved with,” said Crimp, who’s in his 13th season at NIC. “I think they really show what a team is all about. There aren’t a bunch of (NCAA) Division I coaches breathing down my neck for our kids like they are the other teams. My kids just come out and play hard and play together.”
NIC sophomore post Shawn Rainer’s right eyelid had swelled to the size of a large walnut by the end of the game Thursday.
She missed the final 17 minutes after an elbow from a Louisburg player sent her tumbling to the floor in pain. The injury had a Rockyesque look to it.
But she won’t miss her last game as a Cardinal.
“Even if both eyes were swollen closed she’d play,” quipped Crimp.
The Cardinals had a late change of mind Thursday night for their day off.
They decided not to go to Dallas and Six Flags amusement park. Instead, they changed motels Friday, picking one with a swimming pool so they could sunbathe all day.
The Cardinals topped it off in the evening by driving to Kilgore, 23 miles east of Tyler, to enjoy what is said by many to be the best barbecue ribs and brisket in northeastern Texas.
The change in plans also meant that Crimp spent most of the day with his wife and twin 8-year-old daughters. In the afternoon, he scouted Casper (Wyo.) vs. Kansas City (Kan.), won by Kansas City 81-57.
Central Arizona who?
Crimp knew his players had put their embarrassing loss to Central Arizona (89-55) behind them before they took on Louisburg.
A handful of the Cardinals were featured on the front page of Friday morning’s Tyler Telegraph newspaper sunbathing on the grass outside their motel Thursday.
And several Cardinals went to a nearby zoo.
“Usually I tell them we’re going to walk in together like a team and we’re going to dress this way and that, but they made up their own minds and wore shorts and whatever to the (gym),” Crimp said. “They were very loose all day.”
Crimp’s 1988-89 team played in the first tournament held at Tyler. He’s thrilled his team is playing in the final tournament in Tyler.
The tournament moves to Salina, Kan., for at least three years.
The Cards hope to take a little something home by which to remember Tyler. Like, say, a souvenir of sorts, made out of wood and metal, with the words “Fifth Place” inscribed on it.
It’s a stat not documented, but reserve NIC guard Tammy Goyne has easily led her team in floor burns this season.
She did so again Thursday, as she dove and skidded across the Wagstaff Gym floor.
Goyne was playing with her usual reckless abandon, and she was especially motivated by the Cards’ humiliating loss the night before.
“They’re (Central Arizona) a good team, but I don’t think they’re 40 points better than us,” the 5-foot-2 guard from Boronia, Australia, said.
“We knew Louisburg was an awesome team, but we decided instead of coming out and getting killed and hanging our heads like we did last night, we might as well have a good time and make this national trip a fun one. We always say that we play better when we’re having fun. Last night we didn’t have fun. Tonight we had a great time,” said Card wing Jana Nearing, who, with 19 points and 19 rebounds, was in the middle of a lot of the fun she talked about. , DataTimes