The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 26, 2012

Lady Jets eye revenge against NEO

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Northern Oklahoma College Enid’s women won’t be lacking for motivation tonight when the Lady Jets host No. 15 Northeastern A&M in the first half of a Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conf-erence basketball doubleheader.

The women tip off at 6, followed by the men at 8.

NEO, 5-1 and ranked No. 15 nationally, upset regular season conference champion NOC Enid 58-57 in the regional finals last year, denying the Lady Jets a third-straight trip to the national tournament.

“I’m sure it’s in the back of their minds,’’ said Lady Jets coach Scott Morris on the revenge factor. “Anytime you get that close, it sticks with you a little bit. It’s a little bit a part of the sophomores’ motivation, and our freshmen buy into that, too.’’

The two teams had three classics a year ago with the Lady Jets winning at both Miami (59-58) and Enid (59-57).

“I expect it to be a dogfight,’’ Morris said. “It’s been a good, strong rivalry for a long time.’’

NEO has graduated 6-foot-5 Wilka Montout, who had 24 points in the regional final, but have replaced her with 6-4 Sofia Mendoza of Colombia.

“They’re well-balanced,’’ Morris said.

NOC Enid star Marisha Wallace is coming off a career-high 42-point effort in a 75-60 win over Southeast Nebraska Saturday.

Wallace, who is averaging 24.5 points per game, will be joined in the starting lineup by Chelsea Bates (8.4), Paige Eaton (3.6), Rylie Swanson (9.3) and Christa Beasler (10.1).

NEO is 1-0 in conference after a recent 67-54 win over NOC Tonkawa. The Lady Jets are 0-1 after a 72-57 loss to Redlands.

“NEO started the conference 0-2 last year and went to nationals,’’ Morris said. “This isn’t a must-win situation, but if you’re a competitor, you do everything you can to win.’’

In the men’s game, the 7-2 Jets and 5-5 Norsemen will both be looking for their first conference victories.

NOC Enid lost at Redlands 73-65 last week, while NEO fell to NOC Tonkawa, 76-60.

The Jets are coming off a 78-76 win over Division II power Southeast Nebraska Saturday at the Hesston (Kan.) Classic.

“We’re playing harder,’’ said Jets coach Greg Shamburg. “We’re getting closer to playing 40 minutes. We’re still not there yet, but it’s only November.’’

Shamburg said this early in the season, he’s more concerned about the Jets than NEO.

“We need to stay focus and engaged,’’ he said. “We did some things really good in the second half against Southeast Nebraska (39-29). If we can do that for 40 minutes, we’ll be pretty good.’’

Jeremy Espinoza scored a career-high 20 points Saturday to raise his average to 13.2, doubling his average of 6.6 points a game as a freshman. He is averaging eight rebounds a game.

“Jeremy is our best player right now,’’ Shamburg said. “He’s matured. He had a real good high school career and it’s starting to show. He’s doing a great job.’’

He will be joined in the starting lineup by Philip Brown (5.8), Dalen Qualls (12.9), Connor Brooks (13.9) and David Lewis (4.9).

“It (NEO) will be a challenge for us,’’ Shamburg said. “We have to make sure we play the drive. They don’t shoot it as well as we do, but they are athletic.’’

KCRC (1390 AM) will broadcast both games.