The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 7, 2013

Jets go for national berth

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s men will be going for a spot in the national junior college basketball tournament when the Jets face Connors State at 1 p.m. today in the Region 2 semifinals at Oklahoma Baptist University.

With Region 2 having an at-large berth for this year’s nationals, the winner not only will advance to Saturday’s 6 p.m. championship game, but will punch its ticket to the national tournament later this month in Hutchinson, Kan.

“This is the game that matters,’’ said Jets coach Greg Shamburg. “Saturday will just be a preliminary game. You get a different trophy, but you’re going to nationals regardless, which is what we’re playing for.’’

Connors swept the season series, winning at Enid 85-71 and at Warner, 85-77.

Hakeem Harris had roller coaster games in leading the Cowboys to the wins. He had 28 of his game-high 30 points in the second half at Enid and 23 of his 28 points in the first half at Connors.

“We’re not going to let him get 20 points in a half this time,’’ Shamburg said. “We did a good job on him in the second half over there. If he hits a couple of shots, we’ll get a hand in his face and not let him catch it. We’ll have a different strategy.

Dalen Qualls was the hot hand for the Jets in the two games with 27 at Enid and 37 at Connors.

“We’re excited to get to play them again,’’ Shamburg said. “It’s a good matchup and we’re ready to go. We have to rebound the basketball and keep their guards from getting open shots. If we can contest shots and shoot the ball, we’ll win.’’

Connors (23-7) and NOC Enid (22-9) were the only top seeds to avoid upsets in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

The No. 2-seeded Cowboys beat Seminole 77-52 and the Jets beat Western 72-70.

Eastern upset top-seed NOC Tonkawa, 77-68. No. 5 seed NEO defeated No. 4 seed Murray 67-55. Eastern and NEO play at 3 p.m.

“I don’t think those were upsets,’’ Shamburg said. “Seeds don’t mean anything now.. Everybody thought the Eastern-Tonkawa game was a game anybody could win. I thought NEO would beat Murray.’’

KCRC (1390 AM) will air the game.