Coming into Saturday afternoon's doubleheader at the Ketcham Community Center in Trenton, the North Arkansas College Pioneers had a combined record of 41-9, with a doubleheader sweep of North Central Missouri College in that stretch, coming on the first Saturday of January in Harrison, Arkansas.
Northark continued to play strong basketball in the return match against NCMC, winning both ends of Saturday afternoon's double-dip, 93-80 (women) and 100-83 (men). The losses end the regular season for the Pirate teams, with the women at 7-21, and the men falling to 13-14.
The Lady Pioneers sizzled from the three-point line, with Cara Barrett hitting six 3 point shots as part of a 22 point effort. Taylor Tate connected on five 3's and had 21 points. Jolene Shipps added 20 and Sydnee Garreett 14. The Lady Pirates played one of their best games of the season on the offensive end, but, with their limited size, struggled to hold down the potent Northark offense on the defensive end. NCMC had 22 points from sophomore Madison Winters, 15 for freshman Jami Nickerson, 13 points for Trenton native (and freshman) McKinley Hurley, and 10 points for Chillicothe native, sophomore Maggie Graves. The Northark women, looking for a second consecutive trip to the D-2 national tournament in Overland Park, Kansas, are 20-5 on the campaign.
The Northark men are ranked in the Top 10 nationally, have a good balance of outside shooting, athletic wings, and a bruising front line, but had to survive a January test from North Central on a length-of-the-court, buzzer-beating 3 point shot for the win. The Pioneers had less trouble in the rematch against the Pirates with the 17 point victory. Tyler Clanton had 32 points to pace Northark, while Jalen Olds had 20, and Corbin Medley 19. North Central had 22 points for Terrance Bush, 15 from Demetrius Houston, and 10 points from Lorenzo Chisholm.