One-and-done is the probable scenario for Haskell Indian Nations University’s women’s basketball team today.
The Indians (20-8) will meet Shawnee (Ohio) State (25-6) in the opening game of the NAIA Div. II tournament. Tipoff will be at 8:30 a.m. at the Tyson Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
Shawnee State has been to nationals several times while HINU is making its first appearance. The Bears have a better record, are seeded higher and are naturally favored, but HINU coach Phil Homeratha is optimistic.
“We’re really not afraid of anybody,” Homeratha said. “We’re just excited about going.”
Haskell’s traveling party arrived Monday evening, and the players took part in several NAIA-sponsored activities on Tuesday. They attended a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast, participated in a Special Olympics clinic and went to a pre-tournament dinner.
Then, of course, everyone had to arise early for today’s tourney-opening tipoff.
“We’ve been practicing in the morning,” Homeratha said, “so we’ll be ready.”
Today’s historic game for Haskell will probably hinge on the Indians’ ability to stop the Bears’ three-point shooting.
“Three-point teams scare me,” Homeratha said. “They just shoot it up and don’t care.”
In the spotlight will be a pair of 5-foot-7 senior guards — Haskell’s Justina George and Shawnee State’s Mallory Albers. Each is her team’s leading scorer, George at 18.3 points per game and Albers at 17.8.
All five SSU starters score in double-figures while HINU has more of a two-pronged attack with George and senior center Maria Parker who is averaging 16.6 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Haskell’s other starters are forwards Kayla Davis (6.2) and Autumn Burtt (5.6) and guard Christina Belone (6.7). The top reserves are Jamie Sun Eagle (4.8), Lois Stevens (2.9) and Nicole Little Sun (2.9).
Shawnee State is a public university located in Portsmouth on the Ohio River. The school’s enrollment is about 3,500. HINU’s enrollment is about 900.