SALINA, Kan. — It was a short trip to Kansas for two Great Rivers Athletic Conference women’s basketball teams. Both Kaskaskia and Southwestern fell in the first round of the restructured NJCAA Division I tournament.

The tourney was changed to a 24-team single-elimination tourney, thereby eliminating consolation-round play.

Kaskaskia (24-9) lost to Blinn, Tex. 72-63 in the second game of the week-long tourney. In the final game of the first day, Chipola, Fla. eliminated Southwestern 78-62.
Blinn (31-3) recorded 71 rebounds in the win over the Blue Angels. But, the Buccaneers had to hang on as Kaskaskia battled back into contention after trailing 48-30 at halftime.

Both teams shot 38% from the field, and both were below 20% from the arc line. But, Blinn managed 20 more shots than the Blue Angels, mostly thanks to the 27 offensive rebounds they collected.

Adrina LaVern led Kaskaskia with 20 points.

Blinn is one of four Texas teams still in the hunt for the national championship out of the 18 teams remaining with a shot.

Southwestern (25-6) also got off to a slow start in their tourney debut, trailing 40-25 at halftime. Chipola (27-6) never looked back from there. The Blue Storm mustered only 3-of-22 shooting from the 3-point line.

GRAC Player of the Year Janelle Cannon led Southwestern, which knocked off Kaskaskia to win the Region 24 championship, with 26 points.

• Vincennes University (31-2) opens play in the men’s NJCAA tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. tonight (Tuesday). The fifth-seeded Trailblazers received a first-round bye, and will face first-round winner Lee, Tex. (25-10) at 8:30 p.m. CDT. VU, which eliminated Wabash Valley in the semifinals of the Region 24 tourney, was ranked seventh in the final juco poll of the year. The Trailblazers worked out at Wichita State on Monday and then took in a couple games at the juco tourney at the Sports Arena.