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Nijah Cunningham attempts a shot in the NJCAA D2 consolation contest
Nijah Cunningham (33), who was the leading scorer for Catawba Valley Community College in its NJCAA DII Championship tournament game against Niagara County (NY) on Wednesday.
photo courtesy of Catawba Valley Community College Athletics

CVCC Women’s Basketball Team Ends Historic Season

The Catawba Valley Community College women’s basketball team’s historic 2022-23 season came to a close on Wednesday with a 68-59 overtime loss to Niagara County during consolation play at the NJCAA DII Women’s Basketball Championship at the SC4 Arena.

“This season has been an unbelievable year with trials, tribulations and triumphs,” said Catawba Valley women’s basketball head coach Tisha England. “Through it all, I kept my standards and kept the faith and God honored my faithfulness with giving me my heart’s desire, which was to go to the NJCAA Nationals. The growth of these young ladies is remarkable and this experience will forever be remembered in their hearts. Thank everyone who contributed to the success of the ‘Magnificent 7,’ who will forever be remembered in CVCC history.”

Catawba Valley (16-14) came out strong against Niagara County (29-4) in Wednesday’s consolation contest, leading 40-26 at halftime.

However, a combination of 23 second-half turnovers and late foul trouble, including Red Hawks’ leading scorer Nijah Cunningham fouling out, allowed the Thunderwolves to chip away at their deficit and send the contest into overtime.

With all the momentum, Niagara outscored Catawba Valley 13-4 in the extra session to come away with the tournament victory.

“Turnovers just killed us,” England said. “We panicked for no reason. We’ve gone through this all season. We’re just young. Getting here, seeing what it’s like and what it’s going to take to get back here — we’ve got a a lot of work to do. It was a great experience for our sophomores and freshmen. I think Niagara did a great job of putting pressure on us. We’re blessed to be here, but it’s a heartbreaker.”

Sophomores Nijah Cunningham and Keziah Soogrim led the Red Hawks in Wednesday’s tournament finale. Cunningham scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds, while Soogrim added 13 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Rylie Hogg also added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists for CVCC.

While Wednesday’s loss is disappointing, England is optimistic about the future of the Red Hawks women’s basketball program after breaking the glass ceiling and reaching the national stage for the first time ever.

“As coaches, we don’t sleep. My mind is already rolling towards what is going to happen next season,” she said. “This was just a great experience. We’ll be back.”