Tradition was revived as the Griffons brought home the first MIAA Regular Season Championship since 2002 after a pair of wins last week.
Head coach Rob Edmisson was proud of how his team handled the high stress of the week.
“I thought our kids just handled the week at a high level of focus and professionalism,” Edmisson said. “I was really impressed with what they did.”
Championship week started at home against the Washburn Ichabods, Western previously defeated on the road 69-56.
Neither team could gain a foothold in the first two quarters as they passed the lead back and fourth. In the first quarter the biggest lead, of just five points, was held by the Griffons but was cut down to a two point 20-18 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the second quarter the Ichabods fought back and built up a 10 point lead late in the half. Western did not back down as they went on a quick 6-0 run to go into halftime behind Washburn 35-31.
The Griffons came out on fire in the third quarter as they took a solid 11 point 54-43 while out scoring the Ichabods in the quarter 23-8. Once Western took the lead they never looked back as they went on to defeat Washburn 67-57, claiming at least a share of the MIAA Championship.
Game two of championship week was also Senior Night, and all four seniors shined on their way to victory against the Central Missouri Jennies and an outright win of the MIAA Championship.
“I think that teams that win championships have to have great senior play,” Edmisson said. “You have to rely on your older kids to get stuff done.”
The Griffons were down throughout the first quarter as the Jennies took a 15-12 lead into the second quarter. Western battled back and claimed a 20-19 lead in the second quarter. Although Central Missouri tied the game during the quarter, the Griffons stacked on a lead and went into halftime up 35-29.
In the third quarter the Griffons and Jennies went back and fourth for control but it was Western to took a 55-49 lead into the fourth.
The Griffons stepped on the gas, never losing the lead but building a double-digit cushion on their way to a 77-61 win.
All seniors scored in double digits, lead by LaQuinta Jefferson with 25, Mili Koyamainavure with 13, Mhykeah Baez with 11 and Sarafina Handy with 10.
After the victories, Western heads into the MIAA Championship Tournament and enters a new atmosphere, explains Edmisson.
“Tournament play is a completely different environment from any other game; we’re excited about it,” Edmisson said.
The Griffons will head to Kansas City to face the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Thursday March 3 at 6 p.m.