By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Kati Sullivan’s emergence as a three-point shooter in the second semester for the Lady Jets has been the talk of Northern Oklahoma College Enid.
She had a combined 18 treys in scoring 20 points against NOC Tonkawa, 19 against Western and 23 against Connors for the 15-5 Lady Jets, who take a 10-game winning streak against Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Carl Albert at 6 tonight at the Mabee Center.
And to think she almost didn’t come back for the second semester after suffering the age-old battle with homesickness.
“I was going through some stuff,’’ Sullivan said. “I went home (Anadarko) for awhile, and I was thinking of not coming back. I’m glad I did. I got my confidence back.’’
The homesickness affected her play.
“It helps a lot that I’m happier now,’’ Sullivan said. “I’m feeling really good about myself and I’m a lot more confident.’’
NOC Enid coach Scott Morris was proudly saying “that’s the player we recruited’’ after the NOC Tonkawa game.
“That (homesickness) takes a toll on her,’’ Morris said. “She’s playing with the enthusiasm and excitement that she lacked the first semester.’’
A trip home over the Christmas break helped clear Sullivan’s mind. She said her favorite thing is doing things with her family. She turned down offers from Kansas schools because it was too far from home.
“I thought it might be better for me to go home and just go to school,’’ Sullivan said. “I thought about it and decided to give it another try. I’m a stronger person now. I felt like I could get through everything now.’’
Sullivan learned how to shoot from her grandfather and father in Anadarko. She credited family members for getting her out of a slump in her senior year in high school when she was coming off a ACL injury the season before.
“I asked my grandparents to take me to the gym and help and they did and everything after that was really good,’’ Sullivan said.
She said shooting is all about confidence and believing in one self.
“First of all, I wouldn’t be able to play without God,’’ she said. “He’s the main reason I’m out there. I pray before every game and he gets me through it. My teammates get me through it by keeping me up and telling me to keep shooting, even if I miss some shots.’’
Morris actually has to tell Sullivan to shoot more.
“He was yelling at me to shoot the ball,’’ Sullivan said. “I have moments when I don’t feel like it’s ready and it’s not good to shoot. I have moments when I feel it and then I shoot it. I felt like he was forcing me to shoot and that kind of threw my shot off. I just feel like shooting when I want to shoot.’’
The two made a deal for her to shoot whenever she was open. Morris has had to get on her a time or two for that.
“I used to get in trouble for not shooting as much,’’ Sullivan said. “I don’t like to be selfish with the ball. I like to pass it and give my teammates opportunities.’’
But when she is in the zone as she was against Connors, Sullivan fires away.
“I had a lot of confidence that night,’’ she said. “I don’t know what it was. When I feel it, every time the ball leaves my hand, I know it’s going in. I like that feeling.’’
Morris said Sullivan is the best all-around 3-point shooter he’s had in his 12 years at NOC Enid.
“She is as good percentage wise as anyone that we have had,’’ Morris said. “The depth she can shoot it and as quickly as she can release it, combined with her ability to go off the dribble, makes her the biggest threat that we have out there.’’
Sullivan can be her own worst critic. She might remember the one miss and not the seven made shots.
“There’s always room for improvement,’’ Sullivan said. “I want to be more of an all-around player and not just a shooter. I want to improve my driving skills and learn to kick it out to the other shooters.’’
Sullivan was one of four players battling the flu in a 54-42 win over Murray State Monday. She had four points and one trey.
“It wasn’t so good, but I tried,’’ Sullivan said. “You just have to block it out.’’
Morris said the flu bug hasn’t spread any further.
Sullivan tries to go home as much as she can, but she is working Saturdays at the Denny Price Family YMCA.
She doesn’t try to think much about games before hand.
“That gets me nervous,’’ Sullivan said. “I worry about it the day of the game. I just take it game-by-game.’’
Marisha Wallace leads the Lady Jets offense, averaging 19.9 points per game.
NOC Enid is atop the OCAC standings. Carl Albert is 7-10 and 3-5 in conference after beating NOC Tonkawa 58-53 Monday.
Jets look to bounce back
The NOC Enid men (14-6, 4-4) are coming off their first back-to-back losses of the season — 85-71 to Connors and 74-66 to Murray State Monday.
“We have to learn from our mistakes and improve,’’ said Jets assistant coach Ryan Mahoney. “We have to come ready to play and get better if we’re going to win our next game.’’
The Vikings are 0-8 in conference and 2-15 overall after a 59-45 loss to NOC Tonkawa Monday. Carl Albert has lost 11 straight.
Jeremy Espinoza and Dalen Qualls lead the Jets offense with identical 14.7 averages. Connor Brooks is averaging 13.1.
Both games can be heard on KCRC Radio (1390 AM).