---- — PLATTSBURGH — On Jan. 20, the Clinton Community College women’s basketball team was on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in.
What a difference a month makes.
The Cougars went 9-4 in NJCAA Region III play down the stretch to close out the season with a 13-10 region record, good enough for the sixth playoff seed, which was awarded Sunday.
“We were below .500, we were 4-6 in the region on Jan. 20. At that point we had a meeting,” Clinton coach Donna Dixon said. “You have to be .500 to get into the tournament (and) from there we went 9-4 in the region. … We knew what we had to do going in, and for us to win nine out of the next 12 games, that was huge for us.”
Clinton drew Herkimer Community College, the third seed, in the first round of the tournament. They split the season series, both teams winning on the road.
Now the Cougars have less than a week to prepare for the Generals. The teams tip off at 6 p.m. Friday at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica.
Dixon said Sunday evening she has yet to review the tapes from the Jan. 13 game against Herkimer, but she already knows the Generals will be a threat from beyond the arc.
“They shoot a lot of threes,” Dixon said. “Hopefully we can keep them from hitting the threes. That’s how they beat us the first game. We did a nice job containing that in the second game.”
Herkimer finished 6-for-21 on 3-pointers in its 55-40 victory Dec. 8, and went 7-for-29 in the Cougars’ 49-46 victory Jan. 13.
Where the Cougars may have an advantage is in the post. The Generals have just one player, Victoria Seabrooks, listed at 6 feet, while the Cougars boast three players 6 feet or taller (Jessica Decker is listed at 6 feet, 1 inch).
Dixon said she hopes to field a healthy team Friday after a stretch with injuries and players out because of illness.
“I’ve been really pleased. We’ve been doing it kind of short-handed. We’ve had injury and illness,” Dixon said. “People have been stepping up. We went two games with six players against good teams. Definitely, the commitment is there. I hope to bring that confidence into Friday’s game.”
If the Cougars win Friday, they would play the winner of the No. 2 Onondaga-No. 7 Delhi game 3 p.m. Saturday.
2013 Region III Women’s Basketball Tournament bracket
At Mohawk Valley Community
No. 8 Tompkins Cortland vs. No. 9 Schenectady
No. 1 Mohawk Valley vs. Tompkins Cortland/Schenectady winner, 1 p.m.
No. 4 Fulton-Montgomery vs. No. 5 Finger Lakes, 3 p.m.
No. 3 Herkimer vs. No. 6 Clinton, 6 p.m.
No. 2 Onondaga vs. No. 7 Delhi, 8 p.m.
Mohawk Valley/TC3/Schenectady winner vs. Fulton-Montgomery/Finger Lakes winner, 1 p.m.
Herkimer/Clinton winner vs. Onondaga/Delhi winner, 3 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.