By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s women’s basketball team isn’t lacking motivation coming into the 2012-13 season, which begins with a matchup today with New Mexico Junior College at the New Mexico Festival.
The Lady Jets were 28-4 and ranked in the top 10 nationally throughout last season, but were denied a third-straight trip to the national tournament by a 58-57 loss to Northeastern A&M in the regional finals.
“Our sophomores have set the tone,’’ said Lady Jets coach Scott Morris. “They have made it their mission that doesn’t happen again. We’re definitely focused.
“After two years in a row, we had a sense of entitlement to the regional championship. When we had that taken away from us, it was a bad feeling in the pit of a lot of stomachs. It motivated us in the off-season and in the pre-season.’’
The return of 6-foot-1-inch sophomore center Marisha Wallace (15.3 ppg), who has committed to Oklahoma State University and point guard Chelsea Bates (9.7) gives NOC Enid a solid foundation to build around.
NOC Enid is ranked No. 9 in the preseason. A strong freshmen class solidifies the team.
“Every team in the country has going to nationals as a goal,’’ Morris said. “If we put things together and stay focus, we can certainly accomplish it.’’
Wallace and Bates will be joined by fellow sophomore Christa Beasler, who sat out last season with a torn ACL. She had played in the national tournament as a freshman.
“Christa is a physical player,’’ Morris said. “She brought that back for sure.’’
Wallace’s commitment to OSU removes the stress of recruiting from her. She was a dominant force as a freshman inside.
“Anytime you have an anchor like that, it dictates how defenses can play you and can’t play you,’’ Morris said. “It really helps us out.’’
Morris never saw Bates as a freshman a year ago with her maturity and leadership. She hit her stride in the playoffs, averaging 13.7 points a game, including 17 in the championship game against NEO.
“She finished really strong last year,’’ Morris said.
Morris is not for sure about the rest of his starting lineup. The Lady Jets did suffer a blow when sophomore guard Sheri Lang went down for the season with a knee injury.
“This freshman class has been impressive,’’ Morris said. “They have been fun to work with. They have a lot of potential. If they make the adjustments, they need to, we’ll have high expectations for this team.
Alva’s Rylie Swanson, Claremore’s Paige Eaton, home schooler Shannon Hough and Anadarko’s Kati Sullivan have “all really impressed us,’’ Morris said.
Sullivan has shot the ball “extremely well,’’ Morris said.
Hough, at 6-foot-2 inches tall and athletic, makes for a good bookend with Wallace inside. Fairview’s Kori Fast, who led the Lady Jackets to the 2A state championship, has been solid as well.
Swanson and Eaton will be outside threats at the wings.
Morris also expects help from local products Regan Crowl, who saw limited action as a freshman and Rani Melvin, who was “recruited’’ to play after freshman Jordan Garner suffered a concussion.
“Regan has really stepped up her play,’’ Morris said. “Rani just came out last week. It will take her a week or two to get accumulated.’’
Garner could be out a week or be out for the season.
“You never know about concussions,’’ Morris said.
All the freshmen, Morris said, are adjusting well to the college game.
“I have high hopes for them all,’’ he said. “They came from good high school programs. That makes a difference. They understand what it takes to win. That’s a big part of our recruiting.’’
New Mexico reached the national tournament last season and will be a strong first test for the Lady Jets, Morris said.
“They’re better than they were last year,’’ said Morris, who saw them in a scrimmage in Texas.
Morris knows little of West Texas. He will scout them today.
The Lady Jets’ home opener will be Thursday against Cowley (Kan.) County.
Lady Jets roster
No. Player Ht. Class
2 Jordan Garner 5-2 Fr.
5 Regan Crowl 5-7 Soph.
10 Chelsea Bates 5-4 Soph.
TBA Rani Melvin 5-4 Soph.
13 Tory Dwyer 6-0 Soph.
15 Sherri Lang 5-8 Soph.
20 Kali Sullivan 5-7 Fr.
21 Shannon Hough 6-2 Fr.
22 Shelby Layn 5-8 Fr.
23 Rylie Swanson 5-10 Fr.
24 Christa Beasler 5-10 Soph.
30 Paige Eaton 5-10 Fr.
32 Kori Fast 5-10 Fr.
35 Marisha Wallace 6-1 Soph.
Nov. 2 — at New Mexico JC
Nov. 3 — West Texas at Hobbs, N.M.
Nov. 8 — Cowley, Kan.
Nov. 9 — at Rhema Bible
Nov. 10 — vs. Ecclessia at Broken Arrow
Nov. 12 — OBU JV
Nov. 13-15 — Midland, Texas Tournament of Champions
Nov. 19 — at Redlands
Nov. 23 — Bethel JV, Hesston Classic
Nov. 24 — SE Nebraska, Hesston Classic
Nov. 27 — NEO
Dec. 6 — Seminole
Dec. 8 — at Cowley
Jan. 7 — NOC Tonkawa
Jan. 10 — at Eastern
Jan. 14 — at Western
Jan. 16 — Connors
Jan 21 — at Murray State
Jan. 24 — Carl Albert
Jan. 28 — Redlands
Jan. 31 — at NEO
Feb. 4 — at Seminole
Feb. 7 — at NOC Tonkawa
Feb. 11 — Eastern
Feb. 18 — Western
Feb. 21 — at Connors
Feb. 25 — Murray State
Feb. 28 — Carl Albert
March 7-10 — Regionals
March 19-23 — Nationals