INA — Kaskaskia had already lost to Wabash Valley twice this season. So, Thursday’s 85-79 victory over WVC would have been reason enough for the Blue Angels to celebrate. What made it extra special, though, was this was the game that mattered the most.

The Blue Angeles turned the second half into a track meet, pulling away to a 85-79 victory over Wabash Valley in the semi finals of the NJCAA Region 24 tournament.

With the win comes a berth in the national tournament which begins on March 18 in Salina, Kan. Even though the game was only a semi final, this year the top two Region 24 teams receive bids, making the semi even more important than the title game itself. Southwestern gets the other bid after a win over Rend Lake.

“We didn’t take care of transition defense. That was the difference in the game,” said coach Zach Loll of the Lady Warriors’ inability to slow Kaskaskia down. “We didn’t get people back to stop the ball.”

Wabash (18-11), which led by 11 points in the first half, surrendered the lead for good on a five-point run which gave Kaskaskia (24-7) a 59-55 lead with under 11 minutes to play in the game.

The Warriors remained close, but too often gave up easy runout baskets in response, most often from Alex Stanford, who led Kaskaskia in scoring with 18 points. In fact, the 85 points the Blue Angels scored was the most against WVC this year.

“We’re a defensive-minded club. But, give them credit. They got back in it late in the first half,” Loll said.

Andriana Moore led WVC with 17 points, one of five players in double figures. Rashawnda Shamell finished with 15, followed by Teeuntra Moore with 13, plus 11 points from both Girogia Stringer and Brittany Andersen.

The Lady Warriors will lose seven players to graduation, but Loll said “I like where we are at with recruits.” He said the biggest recruiting challenge is to find a player who “will attack the basket.”