Apr. 10—NOC Enid knocked off Murray State College 77-51 on Friday to advance to the finals of the NJCAA Division 1 Region 2 Tournament at the Stride Bank Center.
The Jets knew their opponent would have revenge on their minds after defeating the Aggies at home on March 29 which clinched their spot as the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament. NOC Enid sophomore guard Jalen Stamps scored a buzzer beater three to lift the Jets over the Aggies, 73-70.
Friday's contest wasn't nearly as evenly-matched.
"We just keyed into the details," Stamps said after the win. "We stuck to the scouting report, we did everything that we're suppose to do and you saw what happened."
The Aggies battled Enid close for the first 15 minutes of the first half before the Jets started to pull away. The Jets led 19-17 with four minutes remaining in the half when sophomore forward Noah Jordan got his first basket of the game. Enid ended the half on an 11-1 run to end the half and went into the locker room leading 30-18.
"Murray State is really good," NOC Enid head coach Chris Gerber said, "and to hold them to 18 points in a half is absolutely hands-down amazing. From Coach Reddick and Coach Coop doing the scout and them applying it, they absolutely crushed the scouting report and that's what we're gonna need tomorrow."
The Jets continued to roll coming out of the break and eventually extended their lead past 20 five minutes into the second half. Sophomore forward Ikenna Okeke and Stamps each scored 10 points in the half for the Jets and stamps was five for five from the free throw line in the second half.
Murray State's Andre Washington had a big game in the second half but was the only Aggie who was scoring consistently. After scoring two points in the first half, Washington put up 17 of the team's 33 points in the second half. No other Murray State player scored more than five in the second period.
"The attention to detail, the togetherness, the energy ... all that was perfect," Gerber said, "They're basketball players, they're gonna make great plays offense and defense, but it's that little stuff in the postseason that matters and we absolutely nailed it tonight.
The win sets up a showdown between the school's rival, NOC Tonkawa in the final round. The winner will get an automatic bid to the NJCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship from April 19-24 in Hutchinson, Kan.
No. 1 seeded Tonkawa has been a tough team to beat this season, but aren't unbeatable. The Jets handed the Mavericks their only loss of the season in a 66-62 win at home. Tonkawa won the first meeting 74-62 in Tonkawa.
Stamps said that the team isn't afraid of the Mavs heading into their third meeting of the season.
"It's gonna be a real big game tomorrow ... a rivalry-game, we've been built for it."
Gerber said that the team is confident going into the game, but understands that regular season games have a completely different feeling than playing in a postseason game to continue the season.
"In the postseason the records don't matter," Gerber said, "We've got confidence that we can hang with them, we snuck one of them out but it's a whole new day and a whole new game. We can't go in over-confident, it's that little stuff that wins us games and we've got to stay focused."
NOC Enid and NOC Tonkawa will play on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Stride Bank Center.
Masri is sports editor for the Enid News & Eagle.
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