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Letters of Interest: Strong local contingent to play in NCAA women’s tournament


North Carolina senior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, a former All-Met Player of the Year, was a first team all-ACC pick. (Chuck Burton/Associated Press)

Earlier in the week, we listed the local grads in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Here is the women’s list, some 25 strong, with nine former All-Mets. Please let me know if I’ve overlooked anyone (preston.williams@washpost.com).

Gillian Abshire, Quinnipiac, So.: The Good Counsel grad has handed out 162 assists with only 66 turnovers for the Northeast Conference champs.

Olivia Applewhite, Dayton, Sr.: The Eleanor Roosevelt forward returns to the tournament, this time as the Atlantic 10’s sixty player of the year.

Sequoia Austin, Maryland, Jr.: The Holton-Arms guard walked on to the program and played her way into minutes.

Akilah Bethel, West Virginia, So.: The Holy Cross guard has been out with a knee injury since the midseason.

Kelsey Buchanan, Delaware, Jr.: One of three locals suiting up for the Colonial Athletic Association champs, the Freedom-South Riding grad and former All-Met has played in 32 games.

Lauren Burford, Villanova, So.: Fifty-one of the 65 field goals for the Fairfax forward, who also played at St. John’s, have been three-pointers.

Tiara Butler, Syracuse, So.: The guard from North Point has played in 16 games.

Jade Clark, Delaware, Fr.: The St. John’s guard-forward has played in 13 games.

Chasity Clayton, Florida State, Sr.: The Edison forward was named the ACC sixth player of the year.

Kenia Cole, Hampton, So.: The sophomore from Paint Branch had 20-point game in December.

Caroline Coyer, Villanova, Fr.: The Wildcats’ top sub, an All-Met from Oakton, returned recently after missing several games with a broken hand.

Katherine Coyer, Villanova, Fr.: Also from Oakton, the guard has played in 13 games.

Chelsea Craig, Delaware, Jr.: The Wootton forward is a team co-captain along with star forward Elena Delle Donne.

Elashier Hall, Syracuse, Sr.: The All-Met guard from Eleanor Roosevelt leads the Orange with 70 steals and averages 10.1 ppg.

Tianna Hawkins, Maryland, Sr.: The All-Met forward from Riverdale Baptist was second in the ACC in scoring and rebounding.

Janiece Johnson, Middle Tennessee, Jr.: The H.D. Woodson center has played in 13 games.

Ryan Jordan, Hampton, Fr.: The Stonewall Jackson guard has played in 20 games.

Erin Meador, Navy, So.: The Centreville guard is the Mids’ fourth-leading rebounder.

Maggie Morrison, Vanderbilt, So.: The Spalding guard, a former All-Met, has played in 13 games.

Brene Moseley, Maryland, So.: The All-Met guard from Paint Branch has missed the season with a torn ACL.

Mia Nickson, Penn State, Sr.: The All-Met forward from the former Notre Dame Academy has eclipsed 800 points and 600 rebounds for her career.

Bernisha Pinkett, Kentucky, Jr.: The H.D. Woodson guard, back in the tournament, is averaging 3.2 points in 31 games.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, North Carolina, Sr.: The guard, a former All-Met Player of the Year from T.C. Williams, was a first-team all-ACC pick.

Sheronne Vails, Louisville, Jr.: The All-Met center from Arundel leads the Cardinals with 31 blocks.

NUMBER CRUNCH: 14

That’s how many field goals Bruce Beckford (Montrose Christian) and Jeremy Underwood (Coolidge) made, in 16 attempts, Tuesday night for North Carolina A&T in the Aggies’ 73-72 win over Liberty in one of the opening four games of the NCAA tournament.

Beckford was eight of 10 from the floor in scoring 16 points and also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Underwood made all six of his field goal attempts, and five of six free throws, in scoring 19 points off the bench, three times his season average.

It marked 16th-seeded North Carolina A&T’s first NCAA tournament win. Next up: Louisville, one of the tourney’s four No. 1 seeds. With their run through the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, the Aggies (20-16) got over .500 to break a string of 15 consecutive losing seasons.

In the other NCAA tournament game Tuesday night, senior guard Bruce Massey (Seneca Valley) and Middle Tennessee State lost 67-54 to Saint Mary’s. Massey scored seven points.

BREAKFAST LINK

Boise State center Kenny Buckner, a Wilson graduate, overcame the fatal shootings of his parents — and the fact that he did not play high school basketball — to carve out a college career for himself.

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY

In keeping with the NCAA theme, let’s go with the remaining two opening round games in the NCAA men’s tournament, with local players likely factoring prominently into both.

Long Island, with Springbrook grads Jamal Olasewere and C.J. Garner, plays James Madison at 6:40 p.m. in Dayton. Buckner’s Boise State team plays LaSalle, which includes walk-on guard O.J. Lewis from Riverdale Baptist, at 9:10 p.m.

Have a high school sports question? Start a new thread in our forums and I’ll do my best to weigh in. (Click on ‘New Topic‘ to start your thread.)

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