The Barton Community College women’s basketball team is where they wanted to be at the beginning of the season — the NJCAA Region VI tournament.
However, Lady Cougars head coach Darin Spence said that his team is still trying to find their identity.
“We haven’t found it, not fully,” Spence said. “We’ve gotten closer to what we want to be. We have to understand that we have to play defense. We’ve turned a corner as far as coming to that way of thinking.
“When you turn the ball over like we do, you have to play strong defense.”
Barton (18-12 overall) travels to Parsons today to challenge Labette (11-19) at 6 p.m.
“They’re excited to play,” Spence said of his team. “From Day 1, we’ve been talking about playing for something special in March, and now here we are. We’ve been straight with our girls about what they needed to expect. No surprises.”
The Lady Cougars played Labette on Nov. 19, winning 56-53.
“We played them back in November at one of our home classics,” Spence said. “It was just a bad game. We went back and watched the tape of it the other day. I think it was Shea (Shoemaker’s) second game back (from an injury). We didn’t have Raven (Anderson) yet. We didn’t know who we were.
“They have one girl who can score a lot, but both teams have obviously changed since then.”
That one girl is Chamiya Reaves, a 5-foot-9 guard/forward from Oakland, Calif. Reaves leads the region in scoring with 19.0 points per game, putting her 2.8 ahead the next woman on the list.
Reaves has hit 30 of 86 3-pointers, putting her eighth in the region at 34.9 percent.
Barton’s leading scorer, Dionne Harris, is tied for 10th in the region with 13.1 points per game. Ashlynn Knoll of Seward County is also at 13.1.
Harris is ninth in field goal percentage, making 135 of 276 shots for 48.9 percent. She is also eighth in offensive rebounds with 81.
“I think she is ready to play,” Spence said of Harris, “but we need all of the sophomores to step it up. Not just Harris. In the last game (against Cloud County on Saturday), I think she provided the spark that we needed, and I hope she does that again.
“But in the postseason, we need all of our sophomores to play hard.”
Fellow sophomore Netanya Jackson is eighth in the region with 84 of 170 for 49.4 percent. Jackson is second in the region in blocked shots with 48, putting her 13 behind Seward County’s Hannah Bognar.
Jackson averages 8.3 points per game after scoring 22 against Cloud County in the regular season finale.
Barton freshman point guard Erin Copeland is 10th in the region in 3-point percentage, making 36 of 105 for 34.3 percent.
Shoemaker, a 5-11 sophomore guard, is 10th in the region in free-throw percentage. She has made 45 of 60 for 75 percent.
With a win, Barton will likely play No. 2-ranked Hutchinson, which hosts Fort Scott in the first round of the tournament, in the quarterfinals at Hartman Arena in Wichita on Saturday.