SHAWNEE – Reaching the Women’s Division I Region II Tournament finals for the second time since 2007, the Northeastern A&M Lady Norse square off against three-time defending champion Northern Oklahoma College-Enid at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Noble Complex at Oklahoma Baptist University.
“Since 2007 our team has reached the regional semifinals only to be denied a trip to the championship game,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “We told our girls that this is about getting back to our tradition and getting back to the national tournament.
“All year long we’ve been swept by Enid and they have denied us a trip to the national tournament four times in the last six years,” Rowland said. “So our girls are more than ready to gain some payback. They want this matchup so bad they can taste it.”
The No. 2 seed Lady Norse (22-9) earned a berth in the regional championship with a 70-60 victory Saturday afternoon over Seminole State College in a semifinal game.
The Belles were without head coach Rita Story-Schell, who had an emergency appendectomy Saturday morning after becoming ill Friday night.
Seminole men’s coach Dr. Thomas Mills coached the team Saturday.
The No. 3 seed Belles finished the season with a 19-9 record.
“I was concerned how Seminole would respond with Rita in the hospital,” Rowland said. “In that situation you don’t know how they would react emotionally.”
No. 1 seed and fifth ranked Northern-Enid advanced to the title game after defeating No. 5 seed Connors State College 74-65 in Saturday’s first semifinal game.
The Jets are 29-3 on the year while the Connors Cowgirls finish 18-12 overall.
The Lady Jets built a 34-28 halftime lead and fought off a 47-47 tie with less than six minutes left in the game.
Justice Payne led the Lady Jets with 20 points while Marisha Wallace added 19 and Tiffany Bellamy and Chelsea Bates added 10 points each. Tonisha Dean led Connors with 15 points.
“Scott’s (head coach Scott Morris) got NOC-Enid playing well right now and they beat a good Connors team,” Rowland said. “Wallace is a key for them (6-2 from Midwest City) because she is really playing hard for them.”
During the regular season the Lady Jets edged past the Lady Norse 59-57 on Feb. 2 in Enid. The Lady Jets escaped with a 59-58 win on a last-second shot on Nov. 29 in the NEO Fieldhouse.
Two 3-point field goals by Eliana Fernandez and four points by Wilka Montout along with field goals by Kendrea Harbert, Megan Scheiber and Katy Cooper propelled the Lady Norse to a 16-6 margin over the Belles in the first eight minutes of the opening half.
Five straight points by Fernandez and a 3-pointer by Harbert along with layups by Ilke Teilane and Scheiber created a 29-18 NEO lead with 5:28 until intermission.
A 3-pointer by Scheiber along with a layup by Cooper and two free throws by Hontout’s game-high 21 total points and 12 rebounds, Harbert turned in a career-high 17 points, Fernandez 11, Scheiber 10, Cooper 4, Garza 4 and Teilana 3 points.
Both Dever and Coulibaly led the Belles with 15 points each while Council added 14, Dewberry 8, DaDara Day 5 and Cherrell Price 3 points.
Coulibaly grabbed 15 rebounds as both teams accumulated 45 rebounds each.