Senior Point Guard Tyler Ryerson

Julie Lybarger

Senior Point Guard Tyler Ryerson

The MIAA Tournament begins next week from Kansas City’s historic Municipal Auditorium. The Missouri Southern men and women’s basketball teams have each clinched spots in the tournament and are anxiously awaiting tip-off.

“It feels a lot better being at the top of the standings rather than at the bottom of the standings,” said men’s Head Coach Robert Corn.

This time last year, the men were fighting for their tournament lives, and got in on the final day of the regular season with a senior night victory over Missouri Western. This year the Lions have spent all year near the top of the standings and will probably end up with a top four seed in the tournament. The injury bug has found its way to Southern, however, and two starters, senior forward Octavius Hawkins and freshman point guard Skyler Bowlin, have been fighting off knee injuries.

“Neither one of those guys is going to do anything to jeopardize the team,” Corn said. “You want to go into the tournament playing your best basketball.”

The women are in the middle of the MIAA standings and could end up with a seeding anywhere from number three to number seven. The women are also in a good position to earn a regional bid. They are currently ranked sixth in the region. The top eight teams advance to the Regional Tournament. The last time the women made the regional was in 1996. Senior guard Robin Kantin has been a leader on the team all year long. Whether it was in the first half of the season when she was locking down the opposing team’s best player on defense or in the latter part of the year while playing through a severely injured knee, Kantin has been an inspiration for the Lions so far this season. Senior forwards Tynesha Pierce and Fatai Hala’Api’Api continue to be the best low post one-two punch in the MIAA. Junior point guard India Wood has gotten better and better as the season has progressed. When the women’s team plays to their full potential there are very few teams that can keep up with them.

The MIAA Tournament kicks off on Thursday March, 6 with the women’s first round. Tip-off is at noon with the top seed taking on the eighth seed. The men will start on Friday March, 7 at noon.