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Mavs open NJCAA championships Tuesday night


  The Northern Oklahoma College Mavericks open play in the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Hutchinson Sports Arena.

  The Mavs (23-1) are the #2 seed in the tournament, they face the #15 Vincennes/#18 Holmes winner on Tuesday.  Vincennes (17-6) and Holmes (15-3) play their first-round game Monday at 2 p.m.  Vincennes was ranked #20 in the final NJCAA poll.

  “We are so excited,” said head coach Donnie Jackson.  “It’s a great experience for our players and great for NOC.”

  The Mavs qualified as an at-large team in 2020 but the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

  Could the Mavs make it back in 2021?

  “That was something we talked a lot about,” Jackson said.  “Last year was sort of left unfinished.  I think it says a lot for these players to be even more determined to make it this year after qualifying but not getting to play last year.”

  Mav players had no doubt.

  “We had no choice but to make it back,” said NJCAA Region 2 Tournament MVP J.D. Ray.  “That was our plan all along.”

  “We had what we needed to make it back,” said 3rd Team All-Conference forward Avante Lederer.  “We knew we could do it, we just had to make it happen.”

  What will be the key for the Mavs to make a deep run in Hutchinson next week?

  “Defense,” said OCAC Player of the Year Tyrel Morgan.

  “We are a better defensive team than last year,” Jackson added.  “And I think we have played better under pressure, we’ve had a lot of close games this year where we had to make plays late to win games and we have done that.  I think that will help us next week at Hutch.”

  Although the Mavs have accomplished plenty in 2021 winning the OCAC and Region 2 Tournament, the players are not satisfied.

  “We definitely have unfinished business,” Ray said.

  “We’ve had good days of practice and we’ll be ready to go on Tuesday,” Jackson said.

  “This was such a hard year for everyone,” Jackson said.  “We had quarantines and extended periods where we couldn’t practice and then once we started playing we had cancellations and then played a ton of games in a short period.  It’s a testament to these kids that they overcame all that to play in the national tournament.”

  If the Mavs win Tuesday, they advance to the Elite 8 Thursday at 2 p.m.  The Final Four is set for Friday at 7 p.m., the National Championship Game is at 6 p.m. Saturday.

  The Mavs have won 12 straight since their lone loss to NOC Enid on March 11.

  NOC was ranked 7th in the final NJCAA poll.

This is the fourth trip to the NJCAA National Tournament for the Mavs.

  Northern Oklahoma College, the state’s first public community college, is a multi-campus, land-grant institution that provides high quality, accessible, and affordable educational opportunities and services which create life-changing experiences and develop students as effective learners and leaders within their communities in a connected, ever changing world.

  NOC, a public two-year community college, serves nearly 5,000 students on the home campus in Tonkawa, branch in Enid, NOC/OSU Gateway Program in Stillwater, online, and the University Center in Ponca City. Of these students about 60% receive financial aid and/or scholarships.  Over 80% of NOC students complete their degree with zero debt.

  NOC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers associate degrees in three general areas: Arts, Science and Applied Science.  The associate degree fulfills lower-division course work which is applicable towards a bachelor’s degree.

  Call (580) 628-6200 for more information about Northern Oklahoma College or visit