What does a season like this mean for Central Oklahoma senior Sam Belt?
His ear-to-ear smile will tell you all you need to know.
ï¿?This is surreal, this could not be any sweeter,ï¿? Belt said. ï¿?Being here for four years and getting to the Elite Eight is the best thing that I could accomplish, I have won a bunch of individual awards, but getting our team to contend for a national championship is a great accomplishment.ï¿?
Belt has seen his share of talented squads during his four-year tenure at UCO. The Bronchos posted an impressive 59-29 mark during his first three years on campus, but Belt believes this bunch has something different.
ï¿?This team just has a complete mental toughness about them, itï¿?s all about the team and not about the credit,ï¿? Belt said. ï¿?This team doesnï¿?t know how to quit.ï¿?
UCO demonstrated that resolve last week at the NCAA Division II South Central Regional in Stephenville, Texas. The Bronchos, who had half the team and the entire coaching staff fall ill after eating at a local restaurant on March 20, held off Fort Hays State 65-64 in the first round the tournament just two days later.
The next day, the Bronchos overcame a 14-point deficit to beat Northwest Missouri 73-59 in the semifinals. But the UCO men saved the best for last. They outscored No. 15 Tarleton State 17-5 over the final four minutes to pull off the improbable 77-76 victory to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1992, and only the second time in school history.
ï¿?Weï¿?ve had some different teams in the past that in different ways have more talent and were more athletic, but the chemistry is incredible and they refuse to lose,ï¿? Coach Terry Evans said.
Belt has stepped up his game this year, scoring career bests in points (19.0 per game) and rebounds (7.7), but the team is not a one trick pony. The Bronchos have had plenty of help from the two other seniors Brian Walker and John Neal, and reliable scoring from Eric Cazanave, Lance Harper and Michael Sosanya, who each average 10 points a game.
ï¿?Everyone has stepped up, thereï¿?s no one person that is better than any other at this time,ï¿? Cazanave said. ï¿?Right now itï¿?s the eight best teams and thereï¿?s not many individual players that could take you this far, weï¿?re one of the best teams, thatï¿?s why weï¿?ve gotten this far.ï¿?
The Bronchos (28-5) set a school record for wins this year, and have won nine straight and 19 of the 20 contests. They head to Springfield, Mass. today and continue preparations for their Elite Eight matchup with Augusta State (25-6) Wednesday at 11 .a.m. (Central time).
Elite Eight bound-Bronchos not ready for season to end
What does a season like this mean for Central Oklahoma senior Sam Belt?
North grad fuels OCU
Oklahoma City University clobbered St. Gregory’s 12-3 on Sunday at Jim Wade Stadium supported by three runs batted in by freshman Jared Baker out of Edmond North High School.
Ryan Wright, a junior from Fruitland, Idaho, drove in four runs while going 3-for-5 with a double and his first home run with OCU. The Stars, ranked fifth in NAIA baseball, improved to 14-3, 6-0 in the Sooner Athletic Conference.
Deer Creek boys make state; Bulldogs eliminated by Owasso
The Deer Creek Antlers made a run on Durant in the third quarter of a Class 5A area consolation championship game that thrusted Deer Creek into the state tournament for the first time since 1997.
The Antlers, 18-9, got up on the Lions by six points in the third and then held the ball, thus forcing Durant to come out of its zone en route to a 54-45 win.
Led by Conner Avants’ 26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots, Deer Creek got some easy scores going against the Lions’ pressure in the fourth.
Antler Tyler Haddock added 16 points and five rebounds and teammate Brett Valentine contributed eight points.
UCO fights to MIAA championship; falls to Missouri Southern
A spirited postseason run came to an abrupt ending for Central Oklahoma in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament finals Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, Mo.
The depth-challenged Bronchos played just six players and fatigue played a factor in the second half as Missouri Southern claimed an 84-72 victory to capture the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Division II national tournament.
Fifth-seeded UCO, playing for the third straight day, fell to 20-10 and is doubtful to earn an at-large bid into the playoffs when the full 64-team field is announced late Sunday night. The Lions improved to 24-5.
The Bronchos led 40-39 at halftime, but missed five straight shots during a key second-half stretch when Missouri Southern stretched a 45-44 lead to double digits at 54-44 with 14:21 remaining and UCO never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
Putnam North fires back in second half
The Lady Bulldogs of Edmond Memorial kept their heart beating by downing Bartlesville 48-42 Thursday night in an area consolation contest, but the momentum came to an abrupt stop Saturday afternoon in the consolation championship at Catoosa High School. Putnam North ended Memorial’s season with a 46-31 decision.
Deer Creek loses nail-biter; Memorial boys fall to Tulsa Union
The Deer Creek Antlers were just seconds away from entering the Class 5A state tournament, but Del City’s Brett Cannon scored on a reverse layup on a back-door move with one second left to down Deer Creek 47-45 in overtime in an area championship contest at Catoosa High School.
“We’re playing really well,” Antler skipper Matt Bailey said following the nail-biter. “They got us with the last shot in overtime.”
Deer Creek will face the winner of the McAlester/Durant game Saturday at 6:30 at Sapulpa High School in the area consolation title game with a trip to the big dance on the line.
After impressive road series, OC’s Coats receives NCCAA pitching honor
Oklahoma Christian’s Shea Coats was honored Tuesday as the National Christian College Athletic Association’s softball pitching student-athlete of the week.
Coats, a freshman from Tuttle, was honored for her performance as the Lady Eagles won two of three games last weekend at Texas-Permian Basin. Coats threw a complete-game 1-hitter to lead Oklahoma Christian to a 3-0 win in the series opener, then threw two perfect innings in relief to earn the save as the Lady Eagles took the series finale 6-2.
In her nine innings of work, Coats struck out 11 batters while walking four. She currently ranks fifth in the Heartland Conference in strikeouts with 46, in 43 innings of work.
She is the first OC softball player to win a NCCAA weekly award this season.
Broncho Gibbs stacks up honors
Central Oklahoma’s Josh Gibbs was a repeat first-team selection on the All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Team that was released by the league office Tuesday.
The 6-5 senior forward is averaging 20.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals a game .
Gibbs, who leads the league in rebounds and ranks third in scoring, has had 17 double-doubles this season. He’s also second in the MIAA in 3-pointers per game with 2.4, having made 66 treys while shooting 38.8 percent from beyond the arc.
SLIDESHOW: Lady Wolves win Area basketball title
The Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves won the Area basketball title with a win over Norman North at Choctaw Thursday evening.
Santa Fe thwarts Norman North offense
The Edmond Santa Fe Lady Wolves added another plaque to their collection and took one more step toward a gold ball Thursday night.
Edmond took down a feisty Norman North squad 64-47 at Choctaw High School to win the Class 6A west area tournament and advance to the state tournament that begins March 13.
“We’re going to enjoy that for tomorrow and now we’ve got to go find who we play on Saturday and we’re going to focus,” said Paul Bass, Santa Fe head coach. “It’s one game at a time. We’re 24-1, but that really doesn’t matter because now we’re in the third tournament of the year for us. This is the one that’s most important — get to state and try to get that gold ball.”
Defensive battle falls in favor of Deer Creek
A pair of defensive teams coming out on each other, both 20-5 Deer Creek and 20-5 Collinsville played to a 20-19 score after three periods with the Lady Antlers on top Thursday night at Owasso High School in a Class 5A area championship game.
The final panel wasn’t much different, as Deer Creek used two mammoth defensive plays by Dakota Vann to stave off the Cardinals 31-28 and advance to the state tournament beginning March 13.
“Last week at practice, I told the girls that the road to get back to the state tournament was that somebody was going to have to make a play,” defending state champion Deer Creek coach Totsy Manning said after the victory over Collinsville. “I told the girls to go out and make a good play.”
Vann, a 5-10 junior, did just that — twice.
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