Sinclair women’s basketball team overcomes adversity to play in junior college March Madness

Early in the 2018-2019 season, the junior college version of March Madness was the last thought on the mind of Sinclair Community College women’s basketball coach Trendale Perkins. He was struggling to even keep enough players to complete a game. Fast forward to today. The Tartans are 26-4 and preparing to meet Niagara County Community College in the NJCAA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship at North Arkansas College on Wednesday at 1 p.m.

“I absolutely did not think or expect I would be here personally, nor early in the season did I think this team would be in this position.,” said Sinclair women’s basketball head coach Trendale Perkins. “We are grateful and excited for the opportunity to compete against some of the best programs in the country.”

 “It took a lot of hard work to get here, and we faced adversity,” Perkins said. “We started the season with six players, and then we played a game with five players.”

That is when Perkins sought help from Sinclair volleyball coach K.C. Gan, which yielded interest from assistant coach Sarah Bettinger.

“After volleyball season was over, we learned that the basketball team needed players, and coach asked us who wanted to play,” said Bettinger, a 5-foot-9 sophomore from Anna High School. “I got a call from coach Perk, and he offered me a scholarship. I hadn’t played (organized basketball) since sixth grade, so this opportunity was unexpected, but it is a lot of fun.”

Impressively, Bettinger has appeared in 18 games, (16 as a starter) and is averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

Bettinger has no shortage of talented teammates. Amanda Schroeder, a 6-foot sophomore from Carroll High School, is one of the most storied players in women’s junior college basketball history.

Schroeder became the all-time scoring leader in NJCAA history when she recorded 23 points in Sinclair’s 72-54 victory over Clark State Community College in the first round of the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) tournament. The previous record was 1,560 points, set by Desiree Francis of Kirkwood Community College in Iowa from 1996-98.

Schroeder is averaging 26.5 points per game over her career, which tops the former all-time career mark of 25.8, which was held by Meleena Edwards of Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, also tallied from 1996-98.

Complementing Schroeder are sophomore point guard Kierre James from Lima Senior High School, who is scoring 22.7 points per game; and Keeara Nared, a sophomore forward from Thurgood Marshall High School, who is averaging 11.1.

Sinclair reached the NJCAA national tournament by pummeling 65-50 Lakeland Community College in the NJCAA Region XII District I Championship. Schroeder led the way with 29 points and 19 rebounds, and a 9-for-10 performance from the free throw line. James had 16 points and Myalisa Beal contributed 10 points off the bench.

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