The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

July 3, 2014

Lady Jets set to return most from 21-12 season, add others

ENID, Okla. — Scott Morris’ best recruiting job for the Northern Oklahoma College Enid women’s basketball team for the 2014-15 season may have been his retention rate.

All of the Lady Jets’ returning scholarship players from a 21-12 team that won the Region 2 championship and lost to eventual runner-up Hutchinson, Kan., in overtime at the national tournament, are coming back.

That includes two third-year sophomores, Paige Eaton and Kati Sullivan, who missed last season with injuries. Eaton sat out the year due to compartment syndrome and a knee injury sidelined Sullivan.

“It’s rare when you have two third-year sophomores,’’ Morris said. “We’re real excited about having them back because leadership is so important. It’s a good starting point to build a team around.’’

Eaton’s leg “is way better,’’ Morris said. “She still needs rest and ice, but hopefully she will be ready to go in August.’’

Morris also said Sullivan’s knee is better following surgery to repair to a torn ACL.

The returnees include, among others, All-Region 2 selection Breck Clark, the team’s leading scorer who averaged 18.6 points per game, and fellow returning starters  Kiara Moore (8.4 ppg), Shelbie Kirby (6.0), Kanesha Woods (5.5), Kori Barrios (8.7) and Tierra Coffey (6.8).

Hennessey’s Shawna Johnson, who redshirted last season, also will be returning.

“We have a great retention rate here, especially the way we ended the season,’’ Morris said. “We finished on a positive note and everybody was having a good time and saw the potential ... everybody is excited about coming back and putting together a good season.’’

The Lady Jets lost only two starters — Rylie Swanson and Kori Fast — so they are virtually going from a team of rookies to a team of veterans.

“That’s what makes junior college so unique,’’ Morris said. “On our recruiting this year, we wanted to balance it back out so we don’t go from one extreme to the other.’’

The new players include:

• Alexis Hill, a 6-foor-1 player from Byng, who is a “great athlete,’’ Morris said, with the ability to post up and able to shoot from the outside.

• Gabbie Parsons, Cordell, an undersized 5-foot-9 inside player, described by Morris “as a really smart kid who is a blue-collar player, which is what we really like.’’ She was an Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-Stater.

• McKeena Burt, Paradise, Texas — described by Morris as a “6-foot-1 bruiser in the middle ... very strong and athletic, that’s a good combination.’’

• Hailey Parker, Timberlake — Led the Lady Tigers to four state tournaments and was an Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-Stater.

“She’s  a good example of what our program is all about,’’ Morris said. “She is a hard worker and has a great attitude and has all the intangibles ... one of those kids who is just fun to coach.’’

• Kaley Gault, Yukon —  A point guard who Morris said is a “blue-collar kid who plays with intensity.’’

• Shalyn Layn, Kingfisher — The last of the Layn sisters to play for the Lady Jackets. She was an Oklahoma Girls Basketball Coaches Association All-Stater. Sister Shelby played at NOC Enid. Morris said she’s solid fundamentally and “the kind of player you like to have in the program.’’

“We tried to get kids who play with intensity,’’ Morris said. “With a successful team coming back, our biggest nemesis will be complacency. We want freshmen who can push these kids. We wanted kids who could shoot from the perimeter and play hard.’’

Morris said the new recruits were told because of the experience returning, it would be difficult for them to get on the floor.

“You want kids that aren’t afraid of competition,’’ Morris said. “These kids fit that bill.’’

NOTES: Morris said he hopes to hire a full-time assistant. Rose Anderson, a former Lady Jet who played on the Scotland Olympic team, was set to join the team last year but had visa problems.

“We’re getting applications from all over,’’ Morris said. “I would like to have someone hired a couple of weeks before school starts.’’

Student assistant Zac Wilson, who served as Morris’ lone aide a year ago, returns for his sophomore year.

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