Tigers headline NCAA II Central Region Tournament at home; FHSU opens against Minnesota-Mankato

Women's Regional Basketball

Gross Memorial Coliseum at Fort Hays State University and its 6,814 seats will host the NCAA II Central Region Women's Basketball tournament this weekend. The Tigers are the No. 1 seed on their home court for the regional and are ranked No. 4 nationally.

Three MIAA women's basketball teams -- all from Kansas -- are in the regional, and all three are also nationally ranked. No. 2 tournament seed Emporia State is ranked 10th nationally, and Pittsburg State, the No. 3 tournament seed, is ranked 13th nationally.

FHSU's first-round game will be against No. 8 seed Minnesota State University-Mankato, scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday, March 13.

All tickets for the tournament will be general admission. Sales begin at noon Tuesday, March 10. Prices are $10 per day for adults and $5 for K-12 students. Admission for FHSU students is free with a valid student ID, said Sports Information Director Ryan Prickett.

Gates open an hour before game time.

The first round begins at noon Friday, March 1, when Pittsburg State plays No. 6 seed Northern State University, Aberdeen, S.D.

At 2:30 p.m., Emporia State plays No. 7 seed Arkansas Tech University, Russellville.

The Tigers and Minnesota-Mankato are up next, at 5 p.m. The final game of the first round, at 7:30 p.m., features No. 4 seed Wayne State University, Wayne, Neb., against No. 5 seed Harding University, Searcy, Ark. Wayne State is ranked 17th nationally.

The semi-final round on Saturday begins at 5 p.m. with the Pittsburg State-Northern State winner taking on the Emporia State-Arkansas Tech winner.

The second game, 7:30 p.m., is the FHSU-Mankato winner against the Wayne State-Harding winner.

The championship game will be at 7 p.m. Monday, March 16.

The online ticket link is fhsuathletics.com/sports/2011/6/27/GEN_0627111608.aspx?id=99

Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president, predicts the regional tournament will be a great event.

"This group of student-athletes has already enjoyed phenomenal success under Coach Tony Hobson and assistants Talia Miller and Kelsie Sorenson," she said. "They ran away with the conference championship over the long grind of the regular season, finished second in the conference tournament and they're ranked No. 1 in the Central Region. They play with heart, they support each other, and they exemplify excellence at its best."

She added, "They are also just a whole lot of fun to watch. Wear your Tiger gold, and let's pack Gross Coliseum on Friday night to cheer them on to another victory. Roar, Tigers!"

"It's a privilege to host an NCAA event, and this rewards the success for our women's program for this season," said Curtis Hammeke, athletic director at FHSU. "It's a very, very exciting event, one that will bring eight teams from across the region to town."

"It's hard to host, because you have to earn that No. 1 seed," said Hammeke. "So it was a great job by our women's basketball program to play a lot of good basketball the past month to keep themselves in position to host. I'm very happy that it came to fruition that we have the opportunity to host."

The FHSU Alumni Association will host Tiger Spirit pregame parties in Eagle Communications Hall, located inside of the Robbins Center, throughout the tournament, pending advancement.

Parties will feature family-friendly events and complimentary refreshments, "adult and kid beverages, prizes and visits by the FHSU cheerleaders, Tiger Debs, Pep Band and Victor E. Tiger," according to a statement from the Alumni Association.

The schedule for pre-game parties:
• Friday, March 13, 2 to 4 p.m. Sponsors are Coldwell Banker Executive Realty, Patty Stull and Rich Sieker.
• Saturday, pending advancement, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
• Monday, pending advancement, 4 to 6 p.m.

All parties are free to attend but RSVPs are requested to ensure enough food and seating. Register online or by contacting the Alumni Association at 785-628-4430, toll-free at 888-351-3591 or by email at alumni@fhsu.edu.

Photo courtesy of Mark Shaiken.

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