GARDEN CITY, Kan. - Gaining a taste of tournament play, Northeastern A&M's 18th ranked Lady Norse compete tonight in the three-day Garden City Community College Pepsi Classic.
Following a 76-73 victory over Coffeyville, Kan., Tuesday night, coach Jim Rowland's Lady Norse enter the classic with a 1-0 record.
“After reviewing the film, I think we played a great first half against Coffeyville,” Rowland said. “We really clicked on all cylinders as a team. However, late in the second half we panicked and let them climb back into the game.”
“But, that's going to happen when you have a young team on the floor,” Rowland said. “We showed a lot of character to withstand that kind of run.”
Action in the classic tipped off at 2 p.m. with Sterling (Kan.) junior varsity (0-1) facing Howard, Texas (2-0).
The Lady Norse square off against the host Broncbusters at 6 p.m.
Garden City enters the game with a 1-1 season record.
After defeating Carl Albert State College 71-70 last Friday in the first round of the Seward County Classic at Liberal, Kan., the Broncbusters dropped a 71-68 decision to defending national champion Odessa, Texas.
“Garden City is better than they have been the last couple of years,” Rowland said. “They beat a pretty good Carl Albert team and then just lost by three to the defending national champions.”
Only two sophomores return to coach Jake Ripple's squad after Garden City finished 16-15 last season.
Expected to start in the backcourt for the Broncbusters are sophomores LaTaish Brown (5-7 of Garden City) and Whitnie Young (5-8 of Dallas, Texas).
Brown is averaging 7.2 points with two assists and five steals. Young has a 9.2 scoring mark and a 6.1 rebounding average.
“They like to push the ball down the floor much like Coffeyville,” Rowland said. “Once they get into halfcourt, they like to use a lot of motion to work the ball down inside.”
Freshmen Katie Novack (5-8 of Holcomb, Kan.) and Trista Schmitt (5-10 of Holcomb, Kan.) are expected to start at forwards for Garden City.
Novack leads the team in scoring with a 22.5 average while grabbing 4.1 rebounds per game.
Schmitt has a 9.3 scoring mark and a 6.2 rebounding average.
Probable starter in the post for the Broncbusters is freshman Janel Durler (6-2 of Wright City, Kan.).
Durler is averaging 4.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
“We play Sterling junior varsity on Friday after Independence (Kan.) withdrew earlier,” Rowland said. “We're emphasizing to our girls that they can't have a let down regardless of who they are playing.”
The Lady Norse face the Sterling junior varsity at 2 p.m. Friday prior to a Garden City-Howard contest at 6 p.m.
Final round of the classic on Saturday pits the Lady Norse against Howard at 2 p.m. followed by the Garden City-Sterling JV game at 6 p.m.
Last year the Lady Norse won all three games during the classic.
NEO defeated Sterling JV 84-64 before beating Garden City by an 87-52 margin. The Lady Norse won 69-59 over Howard in the final game.
“This will give our young team a real taste of what it's like to play in both the regional and national tournaments,” Rowland said. “They will experience the challenges of playing three games in three days.”