The Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College women’s basketball team, snapping a three-year reign by Northern Oklahoma-Enid, outlasted the Jets 58-57 in overtime to win the NJCAA Division I Region II Tournament on Sunday.
NEO, coached by Jim Rowland, takes a 23-9 record to Salina (Kan.) for the national tournament scheduled March 20-24 in the Bicentennial Center. Coach Scott Morris’ fifth-ranked Jets finished 29-4.
The win in the Noble Complex at Oklahoma Baptist University earned NEO a return trip to Salina for the first time since 2007.
Said Rowland: “What more could a fan want with the top four teams in the region playing in the semifinals and then the top two seeds battling it out for the championship. Scott (Morris) and I were talking before the game and we both agreed that this would be a great title game and it was.
“This game is what good basketball is all about because not only do both coaches respect each other, but both programs respect each other,” Rowland said.
The top-seeded Jets, who won both games during the regular season (59-58 in Enid on Nov. 29 and 59-57 in Miami on Feb. 2), rallied from a 46-35 deficit to force the five-minute extra session at 50-50.
NEO sophomore Wilka Montout scored on a layup with 1:06 left to produce the final score. The Jets missed a layup as the buzzer sounded and Rowland leaped onto the floor.
“I just couldn’t contain myself,” Rowland said. “We’d been knocked out in the semifinals four years in a row. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of the way these girls never stopped fighting.”
NEO rallied from a 21-14 deficit to lead 26-25 at halftime.
Montout, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, scored 24 points to earn tournament most valuable player honors. East Newton product Katy Cooper of NEO, Chelsea Bates and Justice Payne of NOC-Enid and Jalissa Council of Seminole completed the all-tourney team.
NEO eliminated Seminole 70-60 and NOC-Enid ousted Connors State 74-65 in Saturday’s semifinals.
Montout tallied 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to pace NEO against the Belles. Kendrea Harbert supported Montout with a career best 17 points.