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Lutes on her way to Elite Eight

Beccie Lutes of Sonora has a chance to play for a national championship with the Bakersfield State University women's basketball team.

Lutes, a 2000 graduate of Sonora High School, and the Roadrunners won the NCAA Division II West Regional in Seattle and next week will vie in the Elite Eight in St. Joseph, Mo.

Bakersfield (29-1) will meet North Central Regional champion South Dakota State (29-3) of Brookings, S.D., on Wednesday, March, 26, in the national quarterfinals.

The winner will play in the semifinals the next day against either South Regional champion Central Arkansas (28-6) of Conway, Ark., or Northeast champion Bentley (32-2) of Waltham, Mass.

In the other half of the Elite Eight, East champion California, Pa. (31-1) will play South Atlantic champion North Florida (20-11) of Jacksonville, and South Central winner Washburn (31-3) of Topeka, Kan., will meet Great Lakes champion Northern Kentucky (23-7) of Highland Heights, Ky.

The championship game is Saturday, March 29.

In the eight-team West Regional, second-seeded Bakersfield beat California Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Stanislaus State of Turlock 116-106 in overtime, defeated Northwest Nazarene of Nampa, Ida., 103-84, and came from 12 points behind in the second half to upend host and No. 1 seed Seattle Pacific 85-80 in the finals. Seattle Pacific was 29-0.

Lutes scored 14 points and dished six assists against Stanislaus; had 13 points, four assists and five rebounds against Northwest Nazarene; and had seven points and seven assists against Seattle Pacific.

Bakersfield forward Heather Garay was named the region's Most Valuable Player. Both she and Lutes transferred to Bakersfield from Humboldt State two years ago.

The Bakersfield women's program is in only its third season. The Roadrunner men's team won three national titles under former Columbia College coach Pat Douglass, who's now at the University of California at Irvine.

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