Shot at national championship icing on the cake for BCCC's Nelson Women's basketball

March 21, 1996|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Tessa Nelson doesn't have to lead Baltimore City Community College's women's basketball team to its first national title to prove she is a champion.

A victory in this week's National Junior College Division II Championships would be sweet, but it wouldn't change Nelson's perception of herself or her teammates.

"We're all winners already. We're on top of the world right now," said Nelson, a 27-year-old sophomore forward, with two children and two jobs to support them. "With all that we've learned this season about discipline and working hard to reach a goal, I feel like we've already won."

The Lady Devils (22-7) did win the Region XX Championship, which is why they will play Glendale Junior College of Arizona at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the first round of the National JuCo Tournament at Hagerstown JC.

For Nelson, a 1987 graduate of Walbrook, this week's three-day tournament is an opportunity albeit long overdue to prove that she can still play the game she loves.

"When I was in high school, I always wanted to go to college and play for a championship but I had two little girls early on and I had to join the work force," said Nelson, who works as a residential adviser for the Woodstock Job Corps and as a cashier at Burlington Coat Factory while studying to be an electronics technician and raising her daughters, Melissa, 13, and Temarro, 10.

"I wish I could have gone to college right out of high school, but I had to put my responsibilities first.

Nelson, 5 feet 9, made it her duty to control the boards for the Devils this season. She led BCCC in rebounds (12.5 per game) and was the team's second-leading scorer with a 13.6 average. At the Region XX Tournament where the Devils downed Potomac State in the semifinals, 63-52, and Anne Arundel CC, 60-52, in the finals Nelson was named MVP after totaling 40 points and 26 rebounds in two games.

"Tessa is a jewel. Any coach would love to have a player like her around," said BCCC 18-year coach John Rhames. "She comes to play and she will do whatever it takes to win. She works hard and she's like a horse inside the way she bangs the boards."

Nelson's supporting cast, which sometimes refers to her as "mother" because of the way she "fusses at them," includes Kizzy Dunbar, the team's leading scorer with 14.5 points a game, Sheranda Palmer, (12.8 ppg), Mattie Archie (10.7 ppg), Carmen Hutchins (7.8 ppg) and Kimberly Robinson (4.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg).

"We're not going to be big-headed going into this tournament," said Palmer, a 1992 graduate of Walbrook. "We're just going to play hard. We'll see what happens when it comes time to check the ball."

Pub Date: 3/21/96

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