The Southwestern Illinois College 2013 National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Women's Basketball Tournament experience is about to begin.
Unranked and seeded 23rd in a 24-team field, SWIC will take on 10th-seeded Chipola College, from Marianna, Fla., at 8:30 p.m. on Monday at the BiCentennial Center in Salina, Kan., in a game where the two coaches -- Mike Juenger of SWIC and Chipola's Greg Franklin -- are anything but strangers.
"Greg was the former coach at Southeastern Illinois College and we've had many epic battles in the past," Juenger said. "He's a great coach, but he's only got seven girls on his team. I know we're the 23rd seed and they are the 10th and coming out of one of the best (JUCO) regions in the country, but I think it's a game we can win."
The Region 24 champion, SWIC (25-5) is making its second-straight trip to the NJCAA national finals and fourth in the past 15 years. SWIC placed second at the 2001 national finals.
Still, when the seedings were released last week, the best SWIC could do was the No. 23 seed.
Region 24 runner-up Kaskaskia College earned the No. 24 seed and will take on ninth-seed Blinn College, from Bryan, Texas, at noon on Monday.
"I was thinking we'd be seeded anywhere from 15-to-18. One of the reasons I was given was that our schedule wasn't that difficult and we played a couple of junior-varsity teams.,'' Juenger said. "But unlike teams like Southern Idaho, which goes all over to play, we don't have the budget to travel all over.
"To be honest, it's a little disappointing they've changed the format from double- to single-elimination.Teams come in and lose their first game and they're on the way home the next day. We don't want that to happen.''
All-American Janelle Cannon leads the way for SWIC. Cannon leads the nation in scoring (25.8 points per game) and steals (6.3). Danielle Duncan (14 points per game) and LaTeesha Deloach (12) also average in double figures in points.
Chipola (27-6) is led by sophomores Kristine Brance (15.2 ppg) and Rayven Brooks (14.8). Together Brance and Brooks have taken 374 of Chipola's 678 3-point shots this season.
Brooks is shooting 38-percent from beyond the 3-point stripe, while Brance is shooting at a 36-percent clip.
"Of their seven players, six have taken more then 80 3s, and so that's a main cause of concern for us,'' Juenger said. "We have to get out on them.
"Defensively, they're going to try and take Janelle out of the game by making her give up the ball against the trap and then not let her get it back. The keys to the game are kids like Danielle (Duncan) and LaTeesha (Deloach). They have to be able to knock down open shots when Janelle is double-teamed.''
A win would move SWIC into a second-round game at 3 p.m. on Wednesday against No. 7 seed Southern Idaho.
Trinity Valley College (32-1), from Athens, Texas, is the top seed, while Central Arizona (29-1) is seeded second.