PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – After a one-year hiatus, the Gulf Coast women’s basketball team punched its ticket to the NJCAA tournament.

The Commodores (24-4) earned the No. 11 seed and will face No. 22 Three Rivers in the opening round.

Gulf Coast held the No. 1 spot in the national rankings during the regular season and took down the current No. 1 team, South Georgia Tech in November, their sole loss of the season.

The ‘Dores had a bit of a scare, falling in the first round of the FCSAA Region 8 tournament, which second-year head coach, Rory Kuhn said made the selection show on Sunday a little more tense.

“They all held their breath there for a while because we were one of the last two teams that found out watching the selection show that we made it,” Kuhn said. So, everybody was holding their breath and especially those sophomores; Abby, Amani, Cianti and Julia. So it was like a sigh of relief when we found out we were making the tournament. So like I said, it’s a bite at the Apple, an extra crack at it, and you know, we got to make the most of it.”

As the No. 11 seed, Gulf Coast will not be favorites to win it all but Coach Kuhn said he knows their program always has a target on their back for past success.

“I think the fly under the radar thing is probably not so realistic since everybody knows we are Gulf Coast and we have won, and the history in the past,” Kuhn said. So probably not fly under the radar, but I think our seeding as an 11th seed, yeah, I think that can help us just play that underdog role like we did earlier in the season and came out with some hunger and some fire, we were able to knock off some of the teams that were seeded above us. So hopefully we can get some of that same result.”

Gulf Coast will face Three Rivers College in round one of the NJCAA tournament on Thursday, March 23, in Lubbock, Texas.