The seasons of three local athletes who went on to play college basketball came to an end in the same game early Friday afternoon, when former Surry Homeschool stars Hannah Tompkins and Sydney Bedsaul of Bob Jones University and Jessica Boyd of Pensacola Christian College met one more time in the national fifth-place game of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) championship tournament in Ankeny, Iowa.
The two schools had battled throughout the regular season for the top spot in the NCCAA Division II South Region. Pensacola went on a 10-game winning streak late in the year and won the regular-season title and top seed in the regional tournament, with Bob Jones finishing third. However, the Lady Bruins won three games on consecutive nights and took the regional title for the first time in school history. In so doing, they also extended the career of Tompkins, a fifth-year senior. BJU would not have been invited to the six-team national championship had it not won the regional.
Pensacola let the regional title slip away, but its outstanding performance in the regular season earned it one of the two at-large bids. Bob Jones was the fourth seed and the Lady Eagles were the last team into the field.
Unfortunately, neither team was able to win its opening game of the national championships. The Lady Bruins came closest, falling 63-59 to Maranatha Baptist University. In that game, Maranatha jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, but that was the biggest lead either side would ever hold. The Lady Bruins stayed in the game right to the very end despite a serious size disadvantage that led to their being outrebounded 49-20, and getting just one offensive rebound in the entire game. Tompkins tied the game for the last time on a 3-pointer with 3:04 to play, deadlocking the game at 59, but Bob Jones failed to score again.
Earlier that day, Pensacola Christian had lost 69-55 to third-seeded Randall. In this game, Randall came out hot and had a 12-point lead early in the second quarter, but the Lady Eagles battled back and were down just 33-30 at the half. Randall got the lead back to nine early in the third quarter, but PCC went on a 14-2 run to take a 44-41 lead before a Randall 3-pointer left the teams tied at 44 with a quarter left.
Boyd assisted teammate Emma Hardy on a 3-pointer to open the fourth, but that 47-44 lead was short-lived. Randall went on a 15-0 run and the Lady Eagles were unable to close the gap again.
These results meant that the two teams would meet one more time to decide fifth and sixth in the nation. The fourth meeting of the season went to PCC, 73-62, meaning that the schools split their season series at two wins each. Tompkins, in the last game of her career, played 38 of the 40 minutes and had seven points and three rebounds. Boyd tied with a teammate as Pensacola’s high scorer with a dozen points, and also led the Lady Eagles with four assists.
Pensacola was in the ascendant throughout the first half and led 48-30 at halftime. In one 19-second span of the second quarter, with Tompkins and Boyd both on the floor, the two made dueling jumpers at each end of the floor, with Boyd’s at the 4:51 mark putting her team on top 41-26.
Midway through the third, with Bob Jones trying to rally, Tompkins assisted on a basket by Sarah Thomsen to get her team within 11, then made a steal and got the ball to Kylee Leffew for a basket that made it 52-43. However, that was the only time in the second half that the Lady Bruins could get within single digits. The official report on the game from BJU credited Boyd with much of the performance that prevented a rally by their team.
While Tompkins has completed her college career, both Boyd and Bedsaul are sophomores and have two years of eligibility remaining in which to seek championships.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.