Hilbert's women's basketball completed the long journey from Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference cellar dweller to champion on Sunday with a 76-52 triumph over Mount Aloysius in the championship game of the conference playoffs at Hafner Recreation Center in Hamburg.
The victory earned Hilbert (21-6) its first bid ever to the NCAA Division III championship. Not that long ago, the Hawks couild not escape the AMCC's second division.
Under first-year coach Amy Senefelder, Hilbert was 16-2 in conference regular season play, its first winning record in league play since joining the AMCC in 2004-05. Before this season, the Hawks had an overall record of 34-202, a .144 winning percentage for 13 seasons in the conference, including nine last-place finishes and four winless seasons.
After all that disappointment the easy of which the Hawks disposed of the No. 2 seed Mount Aloysius was a surprise.
"We had a goal of holding Mount Aloysius to under 60 points, and as a coaching staff, we felt that would give us a chance to win the game," Senefelder said. "This team made that happen and now we get to go to the big dance!"
Senior Kelsi Ebert (Frontier) led Hilbert with 24 points despite early foul trouble. Sophomore Ashley Repine notched her seventh double-double of the season (21 points, 12 rebounds) and had four blocked shots. Sophomore Taylor Corts drilled three shots from outside the three-point arc and had the defensive assignment on Jessa Wright the AMCC three-point shooting leader. Wright was scoreless in the second half.
Sophomore Emily Gawlak (Mount Mercy) had eight points and ninen rebounds and Katelyn Proy (wEst Seneca Wes) had eight points five rebounds and stoot out defensively.
Hilbert will learn its destination and opponent this weekend for the first-round of the 64-team tournament at 2:30 p.m. on Monday.
Ebert and Repine, Wright and Abby Kulick of Mount Aloysius made the all-tournament team along with Ali Rinfrette (Pitt-Bradford), Dani Reinwalt (Medaille), Erick Woll (Behrend) and Darrien Johnson (LaRoche).