Phoenix Staff Reports
SHAWNEE — It’s always difficult to defeat a club three times in a season.
In Wednesday’s quarterfinal round of the NJCAA Region II Basketball Tournament at Oklahoma Baptist University’s Noble Complex, the Connors Cowboys beat the odds.
Connors went on a 17-2 run to open the second half and used a smothering defense to overpower Seminole State 77-58.
The Cowboys advance to Friday’s semifinals at 1 p.m. against Northern Oklahoma Enid (22-9). The Jets advanced by defeating Western Oklahoma State 72-70. Connors (23-7) beat Enid in Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference play, 85-71 and 85-77.
“The key to this game was our defense,” said Cowboys coach Bill Muse. “Our defense in the second half was very good and we didn’t let them get very many open looks. We took care of the basketball more on offense.”
The Cowboys allowed Seminole only four points in the first eight minutes of the second half, streaking to a 16-point advantage for a 53-37 lead with 11:54 remaining. Connors led 37-33 and scored 14 unanswered points before the Trojans finally got on the scoreboard at the 12-minute mark.
The Cowboys had four players in double figures with Josh Cameron leading the attack with 24 points. Jamarcus Weatherspoon followed with 14, with Hakeem Harris scoring 11 and Denell Henderson adding 10.
“I thought Josh (Cameron) had a good game, better in the second half,” said Muse. “We had four players in double figures and Jamarcus (Weatherspoon) also gave us some energy out there tonight.”
Muse was pleased with the lack of turnovers by the Cowboys, who committed only nine for the game.
“I was very pleased with lack of turnovers. We did get a little sloppy at the end, but I thought with the lead we handled it pretty well.”
A win over the Jets puts the Cowboys into the championship game on Saturday and a trip to the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. on March 19. The Region II champion and the runner-up automatically qualify for the national tournament under a new format this season.