Ottumwa -- Indian Hills will take the number-two seed into next week's NJCAA Division I National Championship as the Warriors keep alive their streak of tourney appearnces. IHCC will take the floor at the Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas for the first time in the 2020 event at 6:30 on Tuesday night, facing the winner of Monday's first-round matchup between Coffeyville (Kans.) and South Plains (Tex.).
"I'm very happy for our guys that we've earned one of the best seeds at Hutch," said Indian Hills fifth-year head coach Hank Plona. "We've had an outstanding season up to this point and I think our seeding is a reflection of that. As a coach, you always want your guys rewarded for doing their job."
Indian Hills defeated Coffeyville, 70-68, during the regular season on their way to a 30-3 record. Coffeyville, the number-five seed in the Region 6 postseason tournament, rolled to the region title and the automatic bid that goes with it when they defeated Butler CC, 83-81, in the region final. The Warriors matched up with South Plains, where Plona was an assistant for four years prior to coming to IHCC, in the Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Arizona during the 2017-18 season.
"Coffeyville and South Plains are two of the blueblood junior college programs in the country led by two Hall of Fame coaches," said the Indian Hills coach. "Having played Coffeyville each of the last two years I have the utmost respect for their program and coach Jay Herkelman and know they would be a great test. Coach (Steve) Green and South Plains are in the midst of one of the greatest 10-15 year runs in junior college history, and they are always a challenge in March. Either opponent would be a big time test for our team."
"I think the selection committee did a great job with their seeding and at-large selections," Plona said, "and they continue to reward teams that challenge themselves throughout the year and are able to succeed against the best. I think the tournament is wide open and we are hoping to have a good week of preparation and look forward to taking the floor with the best in the country next week."
This will be the 7th straight national tourney appearance for Indian Hills and the 7th in a row for Plona -- two as an assistant at South Plains and in each of the last five years in charge of the IHCC program. In fact, Plona is the only coach in NJCAA history to lead his school to the tournament in each of his first five years.
Pearl River (Miss.), the lone unbeaten remaining in Division I, garnered the number-one seed for the 24-team tournament. Clarendon (Tex.) is number-three and Salt Lake (Utah) CC fourth.