TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 15, 2018) – Fresh off guiding Tallahassee Community College to its first women's basketball national championship, head coach Franqua "Q" Bedell has been named the 2017-18 Spalding NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.
Bedell and the No. 11 seed Eagles enjoyed a magical run in Lubbock, Texas, last month, winning five games in five days, culminating with a 69-51 victory over Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College on March 24 to bring home the title.
Ranked No. 7 in the final NJCAA Division I Women's Basketball Poll, the Eagles finished the season at 29-6, a school record for wins.
"This means a lot after the year we had as a team," said Bedell. "For the basketball world to recognize you for your team accomplishments is an amazing feeling. This is the icing on the cake after all that has happened in the last couple of months.
"It could not have happened without my assistants (Dee Dee Jernigan, Hinton Battle and Joe Cohen) and the young ladies who bought in and trusted the complete process; my athletic director, Rob Chaney, who gave me the opportunity to be a part of the TCC family five years ago; and my wife and family, who allow me to give so much of my time and energy to the team – they are the true MVP's in my life."
Tallahassee had to win its final three regular season games, including one at nationally-ranked Northwest Florida State College, and get some help just to force a one-game playoff for the opportunity to advance to the NJCAA District/FCSAA State Tournament. As it turned out, the Eagles got their shot to punch a postseason berth and beat Northwest Florida State for the second time in six days, 57-53, on February 27 in a neutral site game at Marianna, Fla., to move into the eight-team bracket in Ocala, Fla.
There, the Eagles advanced to the semifinals before being upset by Eastern Florida State College and fell into the pool of at-large candidates for the NJCAA Tournament. Based on its 24-6 record, wire-to-wire top-ten NJCAA ranking and second-place finish in the rugged Panhandle Conference, the Eagles earned one of the eight at-large berths and a No. 11 seed in the 24-team national tournament.
In Lubbock, the path to the championship was anything but easy.
In its opening round game, Tallahassee trailed (22 seed) Western Nebraska Community College by one point entering the fourth quarter before pulling away for a 12-point win. The next night, it was tied with (6) Wabash Valley (Ill.) College with 20 seconds remaining but scored the final six points to survive and advance.
Next came consecutive nights against Panhandle Conference opponents.
In the quarterfinals, Tallahassee snuck past (14) Northwest Florida State, 55-52, in the teams' fifth and final meeting of the season. The following night, the Eagles rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 7:45 to take out two-time defending national champion Gulf Coast State College, 78-68.
In the championship game, Tallahassee and Trinity Valley were tied at halftime before the Eagles' pulled away for the 18-point win.
"I want to thank all the past coaches and players who have been a part of TCC – they are just as much a part of this as the current team," added Bedell. "Most people don't recognize the tradition we have (at TCC). It may not equal that of other schools, but we have had some great moments and now I hope this allows us to make more with the support of our fans and community.
"I feel like this championship has allowed the College to see that TCC is a bit like Disney and that dreams can come true."
Hired in 2013, Bedell has compiled a 99-57 record in five seasons with the Eagles.