Fire Claim First Women’s Basketball Title

For the second night in a row, the Fire women’s basketball team used a second-half spurt to claim victory.

On February 27, it gave Southeastern its first Sun Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament championship in program history.

“We’ll have our moments where things aren’t working, and then all of a sudden we find a way to make it click,” said interim head coach Leann Dahlstein. “When you work all season for something, it gets a little nerve-racking here and there since we didn’t shoot all that well.”

The Fire (24-5) had to overcome a sluggish start that saw the team trail 10-2 just over five minutes into the game. After they settled down, the hosts rattled off 11 straight points to take a 13-10 lead after the first quarter. SEU used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to build an 11-point lead, holding Webber (20-11) scoreless for 6:11.

At halftime, the Fire led 29-17.

The Warriors tightened the game up in the third period, getting as close as four (38-34) with 3:23 to play in the quarter. A 13-2 run by the top seed in the tournament put the game out of reach, with the Fire leading 51-36.

Junior Christin Strawbridge was named the tournament’s “Most Valuable Player,” recording a second straight double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Lakeland native added three blocks and two assists, playing all 40 minutes.

“I think having older players helps keep our composure, and we love playing together,” said Christin.

Classmate Bailey Hooker earned All-Tournament honors, scoring 16 points and snagging nine rebounds. Ali Sanders joined Bailey and Christin on the All-Tournament list with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.

With the win, the Fire earn The Sun Conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship in Sioux City, Iowa.