GREAT BEND, Kan. - Following this afternoon's difficult matchup with the Cloud County Lady Thunderbirds in the opening round of the Barton County Cougar Booster Club Classic, Northeastern A&M's 18th ranked Lady Norse face the 25th rated Cougars at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“This is going to be a very tough row to hoe,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “Both these teams won more than 20 games last year and all three of us were undefeated going into this classic.”
The Lady Norse entered the two-day classic with a perfect 5-0 season record after sweeping three games last weekend in the Garden City, Kan. Classic.
Cloud County's Lady Thunderbirds were 4-0 entering this afternoon's opening game with NEO. The Lady Thunderbirds earned a 72-58 victory at Independence, Kan., last Saturday.
Barton County carries a perfect 5-0 record into today's 6 p.m. matchup with the Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College Eagles. The Eagles are a Division II team from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“Both Cloud and Barton are loaded,” Rowland said. “They both have a core of four sophomores coming back from very successful programs last year.”
Barton County's Cougars defeated the Coffeyville Lady Ravens 71-59 last Saturday in Great Bend.
Averaging 88.2 points per game, the Cougars feature five players that are averaging in double figures scoring.
Freshman point guard Courtney Sturdivant (5-6 of Torrington, Conn.) leads the Cougars in scoring with a 14.6 average with 20 assists and 16 steals.
Joining Sturdivant in the Barton County backcourt is sophomore Ipek Turkyilmaz (5-9 of Izmir, Turkey). Turkyilmaz is averaging 10.8 points with 20 assists and 12 steals.
Probable starters on the perimeter for the Cougars are sophomore Jessica Halsig (6-0 of Wichita, Kan.) and freshman Kristine Silaraja (5-10 of Ventspils, Lativia). Halsig has an 11.4 scoring mark and a 6.2 rebounding average while Silaraja is averaging 10.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
Veteran Inga Mucineice (6-5 of Ventspils, Latvia) anchors the center position for the Cougars. Mucineice leads the team with a 12.2 rebounding average while scoring at a 10.1 clip.