GREAT BEND, Kan. - Three undefeated women's teams clash in the two-day Cougar Booster Club Classic starting Friday in the Barton County Community College gymnasium.
Coach Jim Rowland's 18th ranked Northeastern A&M Lady Norse make the 475-mile trek with a perfect 4-0 record. The Lady Norse defeated Howard, Texas, 52-45, last Saturday in the finals of the Garden City (Kan.) Pepsi Classic.
NEO opens the Cougar Booster Club Classic by facing the Cloud County (Kan.) Lady Thunderbirds at 2 p.m. Friday.
Located in Concordia, Kan., the Lady Thunderbirds enter the contest with a perfect 4-0 season record. Cloud County earned a 72-58 victory last Saturday at Independence, Kan.
Following the NEO-Cloud County contest, the 25th rated Barton County Cougars face the Division II Kirkwood (Iowa) Community College Eagles at 6 p.m. Friday.
Barton County is a perfect 5-0 on the season after defeating Coffeyville, Kan., 79-51 last Saturday. Kirkwood, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, stands 2-2 on the season following an 85-40 win at Marshalltown, Iowa, on Tuesday.
Games on Saturday pits Cloud County against Kirkwood at 2 p.m. followed by the Lady Norse vs. Barton County at 6 p.m.
“We've had to overcome a few distractions this week,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “Because the college hosted Senior Day on Tuesday, we haven't been able to practice in the Student Activities Center.
“We've had to workout in the Civic Center and that's not home,” Rowland said. “So it was good for us to be able to get back in the SAC Wednesday night for practice.”
Last season, Cloud County finished with a 26-5 overall record. Coach Brett Erkenbrack's Lady Thunderbirds return four sophomores.
“Even though Cloud lost a lot of their team from last year, Coach Erkenbrack went out and reloaded,” Rowland said. “They are a very talented basketball team that averages over 80 points per game.”
Veteran Katie O'Neill and freshman Jermaine Kermis are expected to start in the backcourt for Cloud County.
O'Neill (5-8 of Melbourne, Australia) has a 10.3 scoring average with 15 assists and 15 steals as a shooting guard.
Kermis (5-6 of Capetown, South Africa) is averaging 5.3 points with five assists and seven steals at point-guard.
Anchoring the point-guard position for the Lady Norse is sophomore Autumn Thompson (5-7 of Glenpool). Thompson is averaging 3.8 points with seven assists and four steals.
Sophomore Misty Haley (5-5 of Oktaha) is expected to start for NEO at the two-guard spot. Haley leads the Lady Norse with a 15.3 scoring average while recording eight assists and six steals.
“We're going to have to shoot the ball better than we did in Garden City,” Rowland said. “We were really stagnant offensively in the second half of all three games.”
Probable starters on the perimeter for Barton County will be sophomores Kentaa Howard and Amy Chapman.
Howard (5-9 of Chicago, Ill.) is averaging 11.3 points and 4.5 rebounds through four games.
Chapman (5-11 of Lincoln, Neb.) leads the Lady Thunderbirds with a 13.3 scoring average while grabbing 2.1 rebounds per game.
Freshmen Nolisha Markham (5-10 of Tulsa East Central) and Megan Fraley (5-6 of Adair) should start on the perimeter for the Lady Norse.
Markham leads the Lady Norse with an 8.8 rebounding average while scoring 10.5 points per game.
Fraley is averaging 11 points and 6.3 rebounds while making six assists and five steals.
“We're playing very solid defensively and we'll have to maintain that effort against both Cloud and Barton Counties,” Rowland said. “They are both a lot alike in that they can put a lot of points on the board.”
Freshman Kara Chaplin (6-1 of Concordia, Kan.) will start in the post for Cloud County. Chaplin is averaging 7.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Probable starter in the post-position for the Lady Norse is freshman Skye Rees (6-2 of Melbourne, Australia).
Rees is averaging 9.5 points and seven rebounds each gam