Rick Hickman / American Press
Last Modified: Monday, April 01, 2013 6:20 PM
Commentary on sports can normally be read in another corner of this newspaper. But we would be remiss without lauding the recent accomplishments of the McNeese women’s basketball team.
The Cowgirls overcame an arduous schedule to reach the championship game of the Women’s Basketball Invitational before losing Saturday to top-seeded Detroit 73-62.
In doing so, the Cowgirls came within one victory of claiming the school’s first post-season basketball tournament title since the 1956 men’s team, led by Bill Reigel and Frank Glenn, captured the NAIA national crown.
After a somewhat disappointing fifth-place finish in the Southland Conference regular season, the Cowgirls reached the semifinals of the SLC post-season tournament before falling. Most people thought that ended their season.
But the Cowgirls got a reprieve with an invite to the WBI.
No team, though, had a taller task. Seeded eighth in the West Region, the Cowgirls hit the road like a bunch of vagabonds, defeating West Region No. 1 seed Mercer 82-70 in the opening round, fourth-seeded Elon 66-58 in the second round and South Dakota 71-63 in the semifinals.
An NBA-like 11-day, four-game road trip finally caught up with the Cowgirls in their loss to Detroit, which, as the East Region top seed, never had to leave the friendly confines of its home court.
The team’s final success ushered in a fitting climax for the Cowgirls’ stars, twins Ashley and Caitlyn Baggett of Iota. They spearheaded the team to back-to-back Southland Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances, including the team’s first venture, in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.
The Baggett twins’ names will live on, their legacy right up with the best of the best to ever wear a Cowgirl uniform, names like Vicky Chapman, Pat ‘‘Shoney’’ Jean, Ann Robique and Tangela McAlister, all four members of the McNeese Sports Hall of Fame.
And the Baggetts will find a place in the school’s basketball lore along side greats like Bill Reigel and Frank Glenn, the Lawrence brothers, Edmond and David, John Rudd, and Joe Dumars.
It wasn’t just their shooting touch from outside, their dribble-and-drive ability, their passing or their defense that won the hearts of McNeese fans, but it was their style and grace both on and off the court.
The feats of Ashley and Caitlyn Baggett will be hard to duplicate as will the rarefied air of where they led their Cowgirl teammates.
Their careers may be over, but they are owed one more huge thanks from McNeese fans.
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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.