Phoenix Staff Reports
WARNER — The traveling trophy between Connors State and Northeastern A&M returned to Melvin Self Field House for a stay Thursday night.
It remains there today.
Behind outstanding play of guards Hakeem Harris, Josh Cameron and the double-double performance of Denel Henderson, the Cowboys rolled to a 79-68 victory over the visiting Golden Norsemen in an Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference clash Thursday night.
Connors’ win avenge a loss to NEO in early January 96-85 in Miami in which the Norse took possession of the trophy. It moved the Cowboys to 18-5 and 9-4 in OCAC play heading into Saturday’s battle against Arkansas Baptist in Cowboy and Church Appreciation Day.
“This was an important win for us because we were coming off a loss on Monday night and our backs against the wall,” said Cowboys head coach Bill Muse. “We are trying to get every win we can for seeding purposes and the conference race.
“Anything can still happen with four conferences game remaining. It was an important win for us.”
Harris had 23 points and recorded seven assists. He was 7-of-17 from the floor, five from behind the arc. Cameron finished with 20 points, knocking down 8-of-13 from the floor, which included 3-of-6 from behind the arc.
“I think we are in stride right now,” Harris said. “It’s conference and region time and we have to play our best basketball.
Henderson, who fouled out of the game with three minutes remaining, scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and had two block shots for his fourth double-double of the season.
Connors rolled to a 44-31 lead at the intermission and increased its 13 point margin to 16 points, 65-49, with 9:19 remaining. However, the Norse went on a 9-0 run to slice their deficit to 8 points, 65-57 at the 5:50 mark behind Jeff Neuberry, who finished with 16 points and Luther Thomas, who added 14 more.
NEO came no close than six points, 71-65 with 3:12 remaining.
Connors, who was playing without Willie Atwood, who had to sit out due to two technical fouls he received in the Redlands game on Monday night, was replaced by Troy Jones, who Muse praised for his play.
“I thought Troy (6 points, 6 rebounds, and two block shots) did a good job, especially when Denell went out of the game And, both our guards (Harris, Cameron) played very well,” the coach said.
NEO 63, Connors 62
NEO rallied from a 24-point second half deficit to overtake the Cowgirls (14-10, 4-9), who were unable to stop the inside shooting of Sofia Mendoza and ShaQuita Arnick the final 20 minutes of play.
Mendoza and Arnick scored 13 points each all inside the paint, while DeVaughn Gray and Elana Fernandez scored 14 and 12 respectively.
Shakemia Franklin led the Cowgirls scoring with 19 points, followed by Tonisha Dean’s 17 and Dakota Garrett’s 9.
Franklin drained four 3-point shots as the Cowgirls went o a 12-0 run midway through the first half en route to a 44-24 lead at the break. However, the Lady Norse (17-6, 10-3) battled back to tie the game at 54-all with 7:20 remaining and took the lead for good, 56- 54, at the seven-minute mark. NEO held the Cowgirls to just 18 points in the final 20 minutes of play.