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Tbird Womens Basketball

Casper College's Lucie Hoskova shoots a free throw during the T-Birds' game against Air Force Prep earlier this season at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

The Casper College women’s basketball team is headed back to the NJCAA Division I National Championship.

The T-Birds led from start to finish Saturday in an 85-75 defeat of Western Nebraska Community College to win the Region IX tournament at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym. Casper College hadn’t qualified for the national tournament since finishing ninth in 2011.

The 13th-ranked T-Birds extended their winning streak to 21 games and improved to 18-1 at The Swede.

“The winning streak is a testament to this team’s hard work and unselfish play,” Casper College head coach Dwight Gunnare said.

Freshman Lucie Hoskova led the T-Birds with 24 points, shooting 7 of 11 from the field and 10 of 12 from the free throw line.

“Lucie had a phenomenal game and stepped up when we needed it,” Gunnare said. “She had a huge impact on both ends of the floor.”

As has been the case all season, the T-Birds spread the wealth. Bruna Villa Artigues added 20 points, Paula Orenes-Sanchez 11, Mya Jones eight and Emily Robertson (Natrona County) seven.

Casper College had split two games with Western Nebraska during the regular season, defeating the Cougars on Jan. 8 after suffering a 77-72 loss at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on Dec. 5. That was the last time the T-Birds have tasted defeat.

The team will travel to Lubbock, Texas, for the national tournament March 19-24.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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