By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The Mabee Center will have a different feel tonight when Northern Oklahoma College Enid hosts sister institution NOC Tonkawa in an Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference basketball doubleheader.
The women tip off at 6 and the men at 8 in what has been a spirited rivalry since the formation of NOC Enid more than a decade ago.
“It’s as good as rivalry as I’ve ever seen,’’ said Jets coach Greg Shamburg, a one-time NOC Tonkawa assistant. “I don’t know why it would not be as intense as anybody else’s.’’
NOC Enid women’s coach Scott Morris played and coached at NOC Tonkawa. His father also played with the Mavericks.
“The baton is passed every year,’’ Morris said. “Every freshman class learns to be ready to play the rivalry game. Everybody knows the tradition and is ready to play.’’
Morris’ history makes the rivalry more special for him.
“You want to put your best foot forward around people that you respect,’’ he said. “We strive to do that every time ... good, bad or indifferent, there’s a lot of energy there.’’
Unlike the rest of NOC Enid’s conference rivals, it’s a short drive between campuses. It will have more of a feel of a high school game with fans from both sides in the stands.
“It brings the fans together, which is definitely interesting,’’ Shamburg said. “It makes for a good atmosphere. They are good this year, and that will increase the rivalry.’’
Out-of-staters Connor Brooks (Manhattan, Kan.) and Philip Brown (Converse, Texas) have picked up on the rivalry.
“We didn’t lose to them last year, and we want to keep that going,’’ Brooks said. “It’s another good opportunity for us to compete.’’
“We were 2-0 against them last year, and I want to leave here being 4-0,’’ Brown said. “They’re doing pretty good, but not too good that we can’t stop them.’’
The Jets are 12-3 overall and 2-1 in conference. The Mavericks are 13-2 and 2-1.
NOC Enid is averaging 80.8 points per game compared to 63.8 for the Mavericks.
“They can get up and down the floor quite a bit,’’ Shamburg said. “They will score a lot of points in transition. They play smaller than we do, but we not that much different. We shoot more threes. They’re more of a dribble and drive and attack the basket type of team.’’
NOC Tonkawa is led by sophomore guard Trez Colbert (10.4) and sophomore forward Colin Voss (9.9). The Mavericks opened the season with 12 wins, but have lost two of their past three games.
“We just have to make sure they don’t get easy baskets in transition,’’ Shamburg said. “That’s what they are really good at. If we stop that, we’ll be all right.’’
The Jets are led by the trio of Brooks (14.5), Jeremy Espinoza (14.3) and Dalen Qualls (13.7). NOC Enid beat Rhema Bible College 81-68 Saturday in its first game since Dec. 8. Espinoza is coming off career highs of 24 against Cowley County Dec. 8 and 23 against Rhema.
“We looked like we hadn’t played in 27 days,’’ Shamburg said. “We were a little sluggish. We didn’t shoot the ball well and we looked out of sync. We were hoping we would get through that, but we never did. Hopefully, today (Sunday) and tomorrow (tonight), we’ll show more life.’’
This will be NOC Tonkawa’s first game since the break.
“I think it will be to our advantage that we have played,’’ Shamburg said.
The Lady Jets, 10-5 overall and 2-1 in conference, will be in its first action since the break. NOC Tonkawa is 2-13 and 0-3.
The Lady Mavs have lost 12 straight, including a 85-65 loss to Crowder College Saturday. NOC Tonkawa is averaging only 51.9 points per game, compared to 70.7 for the Lady Jets.
“They have struggled a little bit this season,’’ Morris said, “but there’s nothing like playing a rival to get that slump broken and get back on track. We know that, and I think we will be ready to play.’’
Morris said he’s concerned about possible rust from competition, especially since the Lady Mavs have played a game.
“We just have to take care of the basketball and rebound better than we have in the past,’’ Morris said. “We have to take care of those kind of details.’’
Marisha Wallace (22.7), Christa Beasler (10.2) Chelsea Bates (9.2) and Rylie Swanson (9.1) lead the Lady Jets attack. Freshman guard Shushana Flores leads the Lady Mavs with a 8.3 average. NOC Tonkawa averages almost 18 3-point attempts a game.
“They certainly seem to hit a lot of three-pointers against us,’’ Morris said. “They have some shooters and we have to pay attention to them. We have to make sure we get our offense going.’’
Both games can be heard on KCRC Radio (1390 AM).