Jacks a win away from NJCAA II tourney

A 12-19 record wouldn’t suggest that the Dakota College at Bottineau women’s basketball team is on the cusp of a national tournament berth.

But the Jacks – after playing a schedule comprised of teams a division higher- find themselves a win away from next week’s NJCAA Division II tournament in Peoria, Ill.

To get there, though, DCB will have to get past North Platte (Neb.) College on the road today at 2 p.m. The host Knights boast a 14-14 record.

Two years ago, North Platte kept the Jacks out of the national tournament in the same situation.

“We’ve been close (to the national tournament, but we’ve lose the last three (district) games,” DCB coach Wayne Johnson said. “This time we hope to get there.”

DCB is a member of the six-team Mon-Dak Conference and are one of two teams – the other being United Tribes Technical College – that are Division II. The other four, including No. 20 Williston State, are Division I and handed the Jacks losses in each meeting.

Playing teams a notch up the NJCAA food chain has prepared DCB against D-II clubs.

“Our schedule has helped us, no question,” DCB coach Wayne Johnson said. “We’re in a very tough conference so we got a lot out of playing quality teams.”

DCB has knocked off United Tribes of Bismarck and Gogebic College of Ironwood, Mich., to get to this point and has done it with some local flavor.

The Jacks’ roster is spotted with former area standouts, led by Mohall-Sherwood-Lansford product Jackie Miller. Miller is averaging 16 points a night.

At the beginning of the season three of the Jacks’ starters were still playing volleyball and standout guard Shakira Walker (14 ppg) was injured. When Johnson has had his entire roster healthy, though, it’s been efficient.

“We had four starters back,” Johnson said. “We had high expectations but got off to that slow start, but right now we’re peaking.”