Seton’s state champion basketball team heads to national tournament

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The Lady Sentinels make an appearance during a March 24 pep rally sending them off to New York City. (courtesy photo)
The Lady Sentinels make an appearance during a March 24 pep rally sending them off to New York City. (courtesy photo)

The Lady Sentinels at Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler are Division II state champions and one of four select girls teams nationwide taking their game to the next level.

They are headed to New York for the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals March 31-April 2. The tournament provides a platform for top nationally ranked high school basketball teams to play one another.

This marks the first time in history that all eight of the boys’ teams and all four of the girls’ teams are ranked in USA Today Sports’ “Super 25 Expert Rankings.” Seton currently ranks No. 12 and is the No. 2 seed. Four other teams in the tournament are also current state champs.

Karen Self, varsity coach, guided the Sentinels to Seton’s eighth state basketball title this year. She also has four second-place finishes in her 20-year tenure. This is the first time the ladies earned a national ranking. Self credits the team’s chemistry, fostered as they grew up together.

“I feel like the girls are highly motivated on their own because they are very competitive. We try to foster that in practice and help them push each other to their very best each day,” Self said.

They will compete in a three-day, single-elimination tournament from a local Catholic high school with the final game advancing to Madison Square Garden. Self said the team is fine-tuning areas of need in preparation for playing against bigger and faster athletes. Riverdale Baptist from Maryland is already a two-time champion.

“We are also trying to stay fit despite the limited amount of practice time we have,” she added.

Mark Rooks, vie president of sports and community marketing for Dick’s Sporting Goods, said serving as the title sponsor gives them a chance to provide players, their families and their fans with a first-class experience.

The games will be aired on the ESPN network.

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