NEWHALL — Familiar territory and uncharted ground await The Master's College men's and women's basketball teams, which get their taste of March Madness this week in the NAIA Division I tournaments.
Master's men (21-12) will make their sixth consecutive tournament appearance when they play fifth-seeded Georgia Southwestern (30-3) in a first-round game today at 1:30 (PST) at Tulsa, Okla.
Master's women will make their first appearance in the national tournament, playing 12th-seeded Oklahoma Baptist (18-10) on Thursday at Jackson, Tenn.
Both 32-team tournaments conclude Sunday.
Master's, one of five California teams in the men's tournament, won the Far West Region Independent championship by defeating Christian Heritage, 87-77, two weeks ago.
The Mustangs, eliminated in the first round each of the last two years, again face a difficult task. The Mustangs are winless in five games this season against teams ranked in the top 25.
Joey Penberthy, a junior guard, is making his third consecutive trip to Tulsa. Penberthy, brother of Mike Penberthy, former's Master's All-American and career-scoring leader, scored a career-high 30 points against Christian Heritage.
Joclin Julmist averages 13.2 rebounds to rank second in the nation.
Master's women added to an unprecedented season by qualifying among 14 at-large entries. The Mustangs (28-5) set a school record for victories, eclipsing the mark of 18 in 1996-97.
Every Mustang loss came against a nationally ranked team. Master's won a school-record 16 in a row before losing to East Texas Baptist, 96-81, in the Far West Region tournament two weeks ago.
The Mustangs were slowed recently because of a knee injury to point guard Karen Gormley, who returned two weeks ago after being sidelined for several games.
Elizabeth Hansell, the Mustangs' career scoring leader and the team's only senior starter, is nearing the end of an impressive three-year career. Hansell enters the tournament with 1,543 career points. She also holds the school single-game record with 32 points.
Hansell is averaging 20 points and 9.5 rebounds. Guard Sara Scheffer leads Master's with 51 three-point baskets.
But preventing three-point baskets might make the difference for Master's. Oklahoma Baptist is shooting 48% from three-point range.
"They attempt as many as 30 a game," said Ken Sugarman, Master's fourth-year coach. "We need to take that away from them or we'll be in trouble."