TC was “on the bubble” since Saturday’s eight-point loss to Xavier in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament championship. If the Lady Tornadoes had won, they would have earned an automatic bid. TC also fell to Tougaloo 60-47 late in the season, which would have given them another pivotal win.
Head coach Romeo Lagmay said not knowing whether his team would get to play in the NAIA Tournament was nerve-racking.
“I didn’t even want to look at the rankings for a while,” Lagmay said. “I was pacing back and forth in the office and on campus. I looked at who got in and I can understand why a few of the teams got in. Some programs were able to be successful in pivotal games and we weren’t. It’s heartbreaking because it was within reach.”
Lagmay said he plans to hold the final team meeting of the season today.
TC finished the season ranked 33rd in the NAIA Division I poll. Thirty-two teams make the postseason tournament.
Despite not being selected to the tournament, the Lady Tornadoes had a successful season. Lagmay said he replaced “80 percent” of the team from last year and led TC to a 22-8 record, the best in his career at any level.
He also broke the school’s all-time wins record this season in his third year.
“I just wanted to show something for our record,” he said. “I had my personal accolades, but it’s a team sport. We’re in this together. We wanted the icing on the cake, but I can still eat cake without icing.”
As a group, Lagmay was pleased with his recruiting class and how the new players clicked with the seniors. He said the 2011-12 squad’s 3.3 grade-point average was the highest he’d ever had.
“I really enjoyed this group,” he said. “I think we’re going to be even stronger next year. I’m ready to get on the road and recruit. I’m looking forward to training with these ladies and letting them know what their workout regime should be in the summer.”
As seniors, Ebony Richardson, Shakila Cole and Latoya Davis have played their final games in Talladega College jerseys. Lagmay said he has built a special bond with each one of his upperclassmen.
“They don’t have anything to worry abut,” he said. “They’re going to graduate and we’re friends now. Whenever they need my assistance in anything in life I’ll be there. I think they’ve learned a lot and I’ve a learned a lot from them as well.”
Lagmay will now hit the recruiting trail and has targeted two to four in-state players as well as a few in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and California. He was in attendance at the regional tournaments in Jacksonville this season and saw plenty of talent there.
“It’s time to get some in-state kids,” Lagmay said. “Now that we’ve become more successful and established in the state, I think that will attract high-caliber athletes.”
With five or six seniors set to return next year, Lagmay said their experiences should push them to succeed even farther in the 2012-13 season.
“My goal is to make sure the returning players maintain their health and get better at skill work and minimize their weaknesses,” he said. “They also need to continue on their road to graduation. Returning seniors have no time to goof off.”
Contact Wesley Sinor at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DailyHomeSports.