After a 17-year drought, Northeastern A&M's Golden Norsemen return to the Hutchinson (Kan.) Sports Arena for the Men's Division I National Basketball Championship starting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Second year head coach Dustin Grover has guided the Golden Norsemen to a 26-7 overall record.
The Golden Norse defeated Northern Oklahoma College-Enid, 71-64, Sunday in the Region II championship game in Shawnee to earn a berth in the NJCAA Sweet 16.
Coach Barry Mohun's Shelton State (Ala.) Community College Buccaneers (20-10) upset No. 1 Wallace State (32-1) 66-61 for the Alabama Community College Conference men's basketball tournament championship.
“We appear to match up pretty good,” Grover said. “We have an outstanding player in Dominique (6-3 point guard Dominique Gaines) and they have a big inside guy Williams (6-5 forward Brandon Williams).
“We'll know more once we break down the scouting reports,” Grover said. “We also have a couple of films coming in.”
The Golden Norse are making their sixth appearance in “The Big Dance.”
NEO's last trip to junior college basketball's mecca came in the 1991-92 season, Lonnie Spencer's first season as head coach.
The Golden Norse started the Region II Tournament at ORU's Mabee Center with a 95-92 upset over top-seed Seminole Junior College.
Squaring off against Mississippi County, Ark., in the semifinals, the Norsemen received 24 points from Scoop Williams and 20 points from Kevin Joshua to earn an 89-80 win over the Suns.
Spencer, and assistant Jay Herkelman, guided the 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 went “two-and-done,” with an 81-63 loss to Vincennes, Ind., in the first round and an 85-61 loss to Northeast Mississippi in the next game. NEO finished 25-15 overall and 10th in the tournament.
During Larry Gipson's final season of 1990-91 as head coach, 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 total 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-of-three series with Westark (now 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 NJCAA national tournament, the Golden Norse dropped a 92-87 decision to Barton County Community College to finish 27-10 overall.
Gipson, currently the men's head coach at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, reached the pinnacle of an NJCAA national championship in his seventh season at NEO.
The 1988-89 Golden Norsemen became the first team from Oklahoma to win the 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 of 36-4 overall mark.
Legendary coach Cletus Green 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.