#17 NEO Travels South for Thanksgiving - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

#17 NEO Travels South for Thanksgiving



SEDALIA, Mo. — Following a productive participation last weekend in the State Fair College Classic, the No. 17 ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Lady Norse travel to Athens, Texas, Friday and Saturday to compete in the Trinity Valley Lady Cardinal Thanksgiving Classic.

The Lady Norse split the two games played at State Fair. After earning a 77-63 victory over Three Rivers (Poplar Bluff, Missouri) College, NEO dropped a 67-52 to the host Lady Greyhounds.

All three teams exited the classic with identical 5-2 records on the season.

NEO will square off against Panola College (4-0) from Carthage, Texas, at 5 p.m.Friday, in the first round at Trinity Valley. The Lady Norse meet the Lady Bison of Arkansas Baptist College (1-5) at 2 p.m. in Saturday’s second round.

“I thought our kids learned a lot playing in Sedalia,” Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “State Fair has a good program, good facilities and had a very talented basketball team.

“Coach (Kevin) Butcher and athletic director Darren Pannier both treated us very well,” Rowland said. “I knew going into the weekend that we would be tested because of the competition and I thought our kids played well.

“Hopefully, we’ll used what we learned and apply it in Athens this next weekend,” Rowland said. “The main thing I’m looking for is our consistency.”

Against the State Fair Lady Roadrunners on Saturday, the Lady Norse trailed 18-16 through the first 10 minutes.

Even though NEO got good looks at the basket during the second quarter, the shots just wouldn’t fall as the Lady Roadrunners constructed a 42-22 halftime cushion.

The Lady Norse outscored State Fair 12-8 in the third quarter and 18-17 in the final quarter.

“After connecting on 9 of 22 from beyond the arc on Friday, we were only 2 of 22 from the same distance against State Fair,” Rowland. “It was unbelievable because we were getting good, uncontested shots at the basket, they just wouldn’t fall.”

Freshman guard Bethy Mununga recorded a double-double to lead the Lady Norse. She scored 16 total points and grabbed 12 rebounds while recording three blocked shots.

Lady Norse sophomore guard Mikayla Shulanberger and freshman forward Meagan Jackson both contributed 13 points each while veteran center Mariam Gnanou tallied eight points and four blocked shots. Both guards Eneritz Larranaga and Amare Weary added one point each.

“Not to make any excuses, but the kids learned from having to lay around all day before playing in the evening,” Rowland said. “They weren’t comfortable because they were in hotel rooms, and then we had to move to the lobby because of checkout time.

“They have to learn to get themselves mentally prepared for that,” Rowland said. “It’s part of my job to help them adjust, but at the same time, they have to learn that when they step on the court, they need to be getting warmed up and mentally prepared to go out and focus.”

Maya Brewer scored 16 points to lead State Fair while Ren’Chi Rolling contributed 12, Monique Esbrand 10, Jazzmyn Elston 9, Catie Kaifes 7, Grace Morrow 7, Myka Mullins 4 and Bronna Hill 2.

Things were quite different Friday night for the Lady Norse against the Three Rivers Lady Raiders.

NEO constructed a 28-20 margin in the first quarter before maintaining a slim 38-36 lead at intermission.

After outscoring Three Rivers 17-10 in the third quarter, the Lady Norse put the game out of reach with a 22-17 advantage in the final 10 minutes.

Major difference in the two games was the NEO shot 41 percent from the 3-point area against Three Rivers and had four starters score in double figures.

Gnanou produced 21 points to lead the Lady Norse while both Shulanberger and

Jackson added 18 points, Larranaga 11, Mununga 7, and Alexis Geans 2.

“They really didn’t stop us defensively, we stopped ourselves,” Rowland said. “Credit to them, they hit some shots on us three or four times with the shot clock running down.”

Alex Kohler led the Lady Raiders with 14 total points coming off the bench while both starters Sydni Williams and Lakeita Chappel added 12 points each, DaNayla Holmes 9, Markeia Porter 5, Catera Sawyers 5, Hailee Erickson 2, Kathliya Murry 2 and Casey Douglas 2.

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