MIAMI — When Northeastern Oklahoma A&M begins play in the Men’s Division I National Junior College Athletic Association National Basketball Tournament in the storied Hutchinson Sports Arena, this will be the 12th time to qualify by the Golden Norse.
They made three trips north under former head coach Dustin Grover, two each under Lonnie Spencer, Larry Gipson and Cletus Green and one with the legendary S.A. “Red” Robertson on the bench.
And now Jeremy Jackson, in his first season, joins the elite group
NEO opens the 24-team, single elimination tournament at 10 a.m. Monday against No. 14 seed Moberly (Missouri) Community College.
Moberly holds the record for most national tournament victories with 66.
The last trip north to Hutchinson for the Norse was at the end of the 2015-16 season under Grover.
The Golden Norse defeated Vincennes, Indiana, 68-64, in the first game. Shawn Nottingham led NEO with 20 points and five rebounds.
Facing Georgia Highlands in the second round, the Norsemen fell behind 48-33 at halftime before suffering an 83-69 loss. Tyler Williams paced the Norse with 17 points.
NEO defeated Redlands Community College, 91-85, to win the 2013-14 Region II Tournament and capture the right to return to Hutchinson after a five-year hiatus. The Golden Norse fell behind 35-25 to New Mexico Community College en route to a 79-62 loss in the first round. Ja’mill Powell led NEO with 18 points and six rebounds.
During his third year as head coach, Grover took the 2007-08 team to Hutchinson after the Golden Norsemen won the Region II Championship with a 71-64 victory over Northern Oklahoma-Enid on March 9 in Shawnee. With the win the Norsemen carried a 26-7 overall record in the NJCAA 'Sweet 16.'
The national tournament format changed in 2006-07 from double-elimination to single, where the Norsemen defeated Shelton State, Ala., 78-65, in the opening round in 2008.
NEO dropped a 67-61 decision to the Saints of Seward County, Kansas, in the second round. The Norsemen finished ninth overall with a 27-9 record.
Spencer, in his first year, and assistant Jay Herkelman (who has led Coffeyville to its 10th appearance in the national tournament), guided the 1991-92 Golden Norse to their second consecutive Region II title with a 77-75 victory over Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa in the finals. Roy Roberts led the Norse with 20 points.
Traveling to Hutchinson, the Norsemen lost two straight with an 81-63 setback against Vincennes, Indiana, in the first round, then were eliminated with an 85-61 loss to Northeast Mississippi in the next game. NEO finished 25-15 overall and 10th in the tournament.
Gipson's final season of 1990-91, the Golden Norsemen defeated Seminole 86-85 in the first round of the Oklahoma playoff tournament at ORU's Mabee Center. NEO eliminated Rose State 90-87 in the playoff semifinal as Sam Brown scored 25 points to lead the Norsemen.
Sophomore forward Jeff Malham scored 22 points to lead the Norse to a 67-59 victory over St. Gregory's Junior College in the Oklahoma playoff finals.
Faced with the best two-out-of-three series with Westark (now NCAA Division II Arkansas-Fort Smith) to determine the Region II representative, the Golden Norse gained a 95-87 win over the Lions in Miami. The Lions cruised to a 96-83 victory in Fort Smith to force a third game.
Playing on a neutral court in Warner, the Golden Norse received 15 points from Sam Brown to earn a 62-60 win over the Lions.
Traveling to Great Bend, Kan., for a “play-in” game to the national tournament, the Golden Norse dropped a 92-87 decision to Barton County Community College to finish 27-10 overall.
Gipson reached the pinnacle junior college basketball coaching by guiding NEO to an NJCAA national championship in his seventh season at NEO.
The 1988-89 Golden Norsemen became the first team from Oklahoma to win the coveted NJCAA crown since the creation of the tournament in 1948.
Gipson guided NEO to an 83-76 victory over Northwest Mississippi in the championship game while compiling a school record 36-4 overall mark.
Green, another hall of famer, took the Golden Norsemen to Hutchinson twice during his storied 16 years at NEO.
The 1970-71 squad finished seventh at the national tournament while posting a 25-11 season record.
Green's 1973-74 Golden Norsemen finished sixth at Hutchinson while compiling a 31-4 overall mark.
Under head coach Robertson, the 1956-57 Golden Norsemen squad finished 12th in the national tournament with a 19-4 season record. The team was led by 6-7 center Marlon Box.