The 59-54 victory over Hibbing Community College sends NCTC to Rockford, Illinois to compete for a national championship.

THIEF RIVER FALLS — Brooke Heggie, the daughter of Terri and Rob Heggie, and the Northland Pioneers Women's Basketball team has advanced to the 2018 NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament. Northland won the Region XIIIB Women’s Basketball Tournament with a 59-54 victory over 4th seed Central Lakes in the semifinal round and a 68-53 win over 3rd seed Hibbing Community College in the championship game. These victories earned the Pioneers a return trip to the National Tournament on March 15-17, 2018 in Rockford, Illinois.

    Freshman center Heggie, said “I believe that if we play defense the way I know we can play and move the ball on offense, we have a good chance at taking home a national title.” Heggie added, “Northland has been a great fit for me to purse my basketball career. Shannon's years of experience as a coach has been key to help me get back into shape and expand my basketball skills. What a great year this team has had. I'm proud to be a Pioneer!”

    This is coach Shannon Nelson’s 7th national tournament appearance during her eight seasons as head coach at Northland.

    “The basketball season is such a long one so there are always ups and downs, but we hoped to be playing our best basketball during playoff time," Nelson said after the regional championship game. “The team had a goal to host the regional tournament and make it back to the national tournament, and we did that by putting together 40 minutes of great basketball on Sunday. We have six sophomores on this team and they did a great job of communicating this vision to the freshmen, and setting expectations for how the team was to perform.”

    That vision led Northland to securing the #5 seed in the national tournament and will open play against Montgomery at 3:00 PM CST on March 15th. Coach Nelson and All-Division honorees Megan Swedberg, Heggie, Emily Anderson and Madison Stenzel will have experience on their side as they travel to Rockford, Illinois, as one of eight teams pursuing a national championship.

    Sophomore guard Emily Anderson, said “It feels so amazing to win the championship title, especially since it is my sophomore year. This season compared to last year is different because this time I am a sophomore and I feel that the stakes are higher, but this is a whole new team with six sophomores so we definitely have experience.” Anderson added, “I’m looking forward to making unforgettable memories at the national tournament.”

    This is coach Nelson’s 7th national tournament appearance during her eight seasons as head coach at Northland.

    "I think these ladies do a great job of representing Northland and NCTC athletics. Going to the tournament next week allows them to represent the college on a national level," Nelson explained on the teams tournament success. “Our athletic programs have seen a lot of success over the past several years and it is a testament to the coaches and athletes who put in so much time and effort.”

    Mike Curfman, NCTC athletics director said, “The NCTC women’s basketball team has appeared in eight out of the last nine NJCAA National Tournaments. This is a very rare feat in college athletics and an amazing accomplishment for coach Nelson and her program. As they prepare for this year’s tournament next week in Illinois, we want to wish the coaches and team the best of luck!”

    Northland is making its 10th overall appearance in the NJCAA postseason. Northland won the National Championship in 2014 and was National Tournament runner-up in 2016. Northland had a 22-win and 5-loss season and was 10-2 in the MCAC Northern Division.

Article submitted by Cassandra Van Dell, Communications/Digital Media Coordinator at NCTC