Basketball teams reach Heartland Conference tourney

By Spencer Jacobson, Staff Writer

Fresh off their wins on Saturday, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are entering the final stretch of their seasons with the Heartland Conference Tournament this weekend.

The women’s basketball team is heading into the tournament as the second seed with an overall winning record of 19-9 and a conference record of 10-4.

Darin Spence, the head women’s basketball coach, said that the Lady Jets have “pushed themselves and each other daily to improve and compete.”

Spence said that the team will prepare for the tournament the same way it has the whole season.

“We practice with a fast pace and we are highly competitive in everything we do. This time of year it is all about timing, making shots, knowing our defensive assignments and being in good shape physically and mentally,” he said.

Going into conference, the Lady Jets also want to remain focused, enthusiastic and most importantly, continue to support one another, Spence said.

“Our team chemistry is probably the best team talent we have right now. This group has found a way to grow together and they always compete for each other.”

If the Lady Jets win the conference tournament, they will earn an automatic qualifying spot to compete at the NCAA Division II Championships.

Spence said he thinks this is an attainable goal.

“We have put ourselves in this position through our conference play and know how to go get this done,” he said.

The women’s team plays in the first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament at noon today in Tulsa against Oklahoma Christian.

The men’s team is going into the Heartland Conference Tournament as the fourth seed with a record of 20-8 overall and 11-5 in conference play.

R.J. Allen, the head men’s basketball coach, said that heading into the tournament, they will not be making any big changes and will continue to prepare as they have been.

“We are just staying status quo and we will go down there and see what happens,” he said.

If any changes are being made, it is taking care of their bodies and practicing lighter in preparation, Allen said.

“Right now we are just trying to stay physically and mentally fresh,” he said.

Going into the conference tournament, Allen said the Jets are trying to stay even keel and remain focused.

Allen said the team will earn an automatic bid to continue on to the NCAA Division II Championships if they win the conference tournament.

If the team does not win the conference tournament, there is still an opportunity to get an at-large bid, which is based on how many games the Jets win in the conference tournament.

Allen said the Jets will need to go into the tournament ready to compete.

“Everyone will be fighting for their season. I don’t think anyone is going to just lay down and let you roll over on them,” he said.

Despite the difficult competition, Allen said he is feeling optimistic going into the conference tournament.

“I definitely think we have a great opportunity to go down there and win the tournament,” Allen said.

The men’s team plays in the first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Tulsa against Rogers State.

PHOTO: THE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM is heading into the tournament as the second seed with an overall record of 19-9.  Courtesy photo, Newman Athletics