Things were looking up for the Neosho County Community College women in the third quarter versus Butler Community College Wednesday night. NCCC had a lead before the game was tied at 55 at the end of the third quarter, but one of the best players in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference ramped up her game a notch to ultimately take down the Lady Panthers 76-69 in Panther Gymnasium.
NCCC was decked out in pink uniforms to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sophomore Jessica Jones had a team-high of 19 points, three steals and three rebounds, while sophomore Morgan Bolen had 16 points and four dimes. Sophomore Chrissy Brown chipped in with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
But Butler freshman Tamara Nard – the fourth-leading scorer in the KJCCC averaging 15.7 points per game as well as a player with the third-highest field goal percentage in the conference shooting 57 percent – scored 10 points in that third quarter and 33 points and eight rebounds for the game to help the Lady Grizzlies defeat NCCC, assisting Butler in sweeping the Lady Panthers every year since at least the 2011-12 season.
The 6’2” player made play after play in the paint, even with the Lady Panthers clicking on all cylinders at moments in the game, including 14 made 3s versus four for Butler. Sophomore Ravon Nero scored 17 points for Butler.
“Truthfully, their stud made plays, and we missed shots, but they were good shots. It’s a stupid game man, sometimes they just don’t go in,” head coach JJ Davis said after the game. “You know we normally don’t score in the 60s, we normally score in the 80s. We struggled today to put it in the basket. If somebody would have told me that we had a chance in the fourth quarter of this game, I would’ve told you we got a chance. They played hard, we played hard. Turnovers killed us. We got to be better. Some of our good players, when times get tight, we get a little ball hungry, so we got to fix that. We got two weeks left. We were there, that’s a positive, we just came up short.”
If NCCC would have won the game versus Butler, a team that was ranked No. 18 in the nation heading into the year, the Lady Panthers could have hosted a home playoff game for the first time in at least Davis’ tenure as head coach.
Not helping the cause were the 28 turnovers versus Butler’s 23.
Still, NCCC was actually up by 14 late in the second thanks to Bolen’s 13 points in the first half, including three of six from deep in the first quarter. Jones contributed 12 points and four of nine shooting from deep in that first half.
Nard, meanwhile, shot the ball at a high percentage, 16 of 28, thanks to her field goals in the paint. The All-Conference talent helped the team shoot 43 percent in the second half versus 24 percent for NCCC, as well as snatch five offensive rebounds that contributed to 22 overall compared to the Lady Panthers’ 13.
NCCC (10-15, 4-13) will gear up to play Coffeyville (23-5, 13-5) at 5:30 pm Saturday on the road.