The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 16, 2014

Nationals top surprising year for Perry

ENID, Okla. —

Waukomis’ Sadie Perry decided to walk on to Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s women’s basketball team hoping just to make a contribution, even if it was only as a practice player.

The season has gone beyond her dreams.

The Lady Jets (21-11) are not only in the NJCAA Division I National Tournament (vs. Eastern Arizona at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Salina, Kan.), but Perry has been in the rotation at guard.

“I didn’t expect a whole lot this year,’’ Perry said. “I’ve gotten a lot more out of it than I expected. I was afraid it was going to be like a job, but it wasn’t like that at all ... getting to the national tournament just adds to the experience. I didn’t expect that at all.’’

Perry had played on a summer team coached by then Lady Jets assistant Katie Snodgrass Mahoney. Mahoney urged her to talk with NOC Enid head coach Scott Morris about walking on.

Mahoney, though, later would leave to become head coach at Allen County Community College in Inola, Kan.

“That was kind of sad,’’ Perry said, “but I really like coach Morris. He knows what he’s doing.’’

Perry followed the Lady Jets in 2012-13 after taking some college classes there.

Her confidence grew during off-season workouts.

“I was seeing that I could play, maybe not starting, but I knew I could hang with some of the good people,’’ Perry said.

Perry’s main forte always had been defense. That put her in a position to impress coaches.

“I don’t know if I impressed them or not,’’ Perry said. “I hoped I was. I was just trying to do my best. I’ve always been able to defend. That’s my game. The key to my playing was my defense.’’

Perry turned out to be the blue collar player Morris was looking for.

“The secret to defense is all effort,’’ she said. “Coach said it’s 90 percent effort and 10 percent skills. I pretty much try to do that. If I’m not scoring, you want to stop the other person from scoring.’’

Perry averaged only 1.2 points per game, but still doesn’t see herself as a defensive specialist. She averaged around 13 points per game as a senior with the Lady Chiefs.

“It’s (scoring) is always in the back of my head,’’ Perry said. “I want to score, but if it’s not the right time, I’m not going to throw up shots.’’

Summer basketball helped prepare her for the higher level of competition.

“It’s definitely different from high school,’’ she said, “but it’s the same type of game as summer basketball.’’

Perry feels she has “more of  a feel for the game,’’ after a year of college.

The college game is more demanding with practices of two to three hours, but it wasn’t as bad as Perry thought it could be.

“I was always if you went Division I, you have to focus strictly on basketball and put school on the backburner,’’ Perry said. “You practice and lift weights over and over. ... We do a lot of work here, but it’s not as much of a job as  I thought it would be. You do have to have discipline. You have to balance your time for everything.’’

She has connected well with her new teammates. She  played on the same summer team as Katie Barnhart and had played against Jordan Collier, Sydney Postier and Kori Fast among others.

“It was better than I expected it would be,’’ she said.

But nothing was better than seeing the No. 5-seeded Lady Jets go through the regional tournament, upsetting the No. 1 (Northeastern A&M) and No. 2 (Eastern) seeds that had swept the regular season series against NOC Enid.

For someone who thought it was a big deal when her Lady Chiefs made the area tournament twice in a row, it was quite an experience.

“It feels really good,’’ Perry said. “You appreciate it a little more when you haven’t been there before. Coming in as an underdog made it sweeter. It was so fun. I’ve never been a part of something that crazy and fun.’’

Perry said the further the Lady Jets went in the regionals, they hungrier they got.

“We had nothing to lose as an underdog,’’ she said. “Everybody higher up had something to lose. That made it sweeter.’’

Perry takes Morris’ philosophy of taking it one game at a time to nationals. The team left today for Salina.

“We just take it day by day,’’ Perry said. “I’m not so much nervous as I am excited.’’

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