National Independent Tournament offers Saints championship chances
By Rai Masuda
Senior basketball players Jamie Allenbaugh, Sam Jozenville, Kyle Cregan, and Lee Wise will play in a postseason after all.
Both Flagler’s men’s and women’s teams will participate in the NCAA Div. II National Independent Tournament hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myers.
The ladies side of the tournament begins on Thursday, Feb. 22, and includes eight teams. Fifth- seeded Flagler’s first round opponent will be Central State University of Ohio. That game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip off.
If the women defeat Central State, they will play the winner of the contest between No. 8 Johnson and Wales and No. 1 Florida Gulf Coast, who will most likely be the winner.
If Flagler loses, they move into the loser’s bracket with one game left to play, likely against Johnson and Wales.
The men’s side features nine teams, which complicates things. The Flagler men open play on Sunday, Feb. 25, against host Florida Gulf Coast. If they were to win, they would play North Georgia, Palm Beach Atlantic or District of Columbia, depending on the outcomes of earlier games.
If Flagler loses to FGCU, they would play the loser of the quarterfinal game between Georgia Southwestern and Pitt-Johnstown.
If Flagler loses both games, they are out, but if they win the second game, they will play a fifth place game on Tuesday. Got all that?
Unlike the women’s side of the tournament, the men’s side is unseeded. According to Flagler Sports Information Director John Jordan, this is done as a convenience to teams that play right up to the date of the tournament.
Each team is guaranteed two games, and a win in both would put the seniors in a position to end their college careers with a championship.
The Saints will be facing opponents who, like Flagler, do not belong to a conference.
“I’m just glad with the absence of a conference tournament that we have something to look forward to,” men’s Coach Bo Clark said.
Clark will be coaching in his first National Independent Tournament. The men’s squad is looking to build on their recent momentum, having won eight of their first 11 games in 2007.
The Saints biggest competition will come from the host Eagles. The Florida Gulf Coast women’s team is currently ranked No. 1 in the latest ESPN/USA Today Div. II poll with a record of 23-0.
The men won last year’s National Independent Tournament and are 22-5 this year.
Ticket prices range from $6 to $10 and are good for all games played on that day.