Morrow native Chatil Bradford helped lead Columbus State into the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball tournament on today. (Special Photo: Anne Appleton)
Chatil Bradford didn’t want to end her four-year playing career at Columbus State without a chance to go to the big dance.
Bradford, a Morrow native, had one last chance to get that NCAA Tournament berth, and she was determined to do what ever she could to help her Columbus State teammates.
The senior forward played a large part in the Cougars capturing the Peach Belt Conference title last weekend on their home court. In the process, Bradford was named tournament MVP as the Cougars defeated Georgia College 60-49 in the championship game behind her 17 points and seven rebounds.
“It really feels good to work so hard and get that tournament win,” Bradford said earlier this week via phone. “I’ve never had the opportunity to see what it felt like to play in the NCAA Tournament. It is special because you still have a game to play after your conference tournament. For me as a senior, it is definitely sweet.”
Columbus State will take on North Georgia, another Peach Belt Conference team, today in the Southeast Regional in Hickory, N.C.
The Cougars are making their seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and the first since the 2007 campaign. Columbus State reached the 2000 and 2001 NCAA Tournament Final Four.
This will be the third time that Columbus State and North Georgia have squared off this season, with the Cougars losing the previous two meetings.
“I refuse to lose for a third time to a team,” Bradford said. “We want to keep our season going. The ultimate goal for nay team is to win that NCAA championship.”
Following the completion of the regular season, Bradford was named to the all-conference second team after averaging 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. After a quarterfinals round win over Flagler in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament, the Cougars took on defending champion Clayton State.
A week ago, Columbus had lost its second game of the season to Clayton State.
But the Cougars and Bradford would not be denied in the tournament. With Bradford pouring in 13 points and 11 rebounds, Columbus State was finally able to defeat Clayton State.
It was the first time that Bradford had experienced a win against her hometown rival.
“That was special because I know so many of their players, and I grew up in Morrow,” Bradford said. “Every time I go home, the only thing family and friends ask me about is playing against Clayton State.”
A mass communication major, Bradford is also a two-sport athlete at the school. During the spring, she competes as a thrower on the track and field team.
Although she has never reached the NCAA in track and field, Bradford is pleased at the way she has competed despite missing offseason training.
“I usually go into the season at a disadvantage because I can never work in the offseason,” she said. “I love doing both sports, because I believe in multi-tasking.”
Now, Bradford wants to go after a bigger prize as the Cougars open the NCAA Tournament.
“I can finally say we’ve done something since we’ve been here,” Bradford said. “Our names will forever go down as the 2014 Peach Belt tournament champions.”