Former local basketball standouts Alexis Hill and Payton Taylor are headed to the 2018 NAIA Division I women’s basketball tournament this week with the Oklahoma City University Stars.
Hill, a 6-1 senior from Byng High School, and Taylor, a 6-0 freshman from Ada High School, will be competing with the Stars at the NAIA Division I tournament, which begins today and runs through March 20 at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in Billings, Montana.
The Stars will square off against Providence, Montana, at 3:15 p.m. Thursday in a first-round matchup. OCU enters the tournament at 28-5 and is the defending national champion.
Oklahoma City is ranked No. 5 in the final NAIA women’s Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, while Providence is No. 28. The Argos (19-11) were an at-large selection to the tournament. The Stars reached the NAIA Tournament for the 21st consecutive year
Oklahoma City head coach Bo Overton — who was the 1979 Player of the Year while at Ada High School — said Hill and Taylor have been a big part of the Stars’ success this season.
“I am very proud of these two because of not only what they do on the floor, but off the floor as well. Both are great students and great representatives of not only the Ada area, but also Oklahoma,” he told The Ada News. “Both players are unique in that they can play multiple positions.”
Taylor has started every game this year for the Stars. She is averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Taylor had a career-best 14 points in OCU’s 59-54 win over Southwestern Christian this season.
“Payton has been our starting point guard for the entire season. I’m really proud of how she has come in from day one and handled the ball and led this team. I really believe she has only scratched her potential,” Overton said.
OCU captured its 12th Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament title by crushing USAO 89-63 in the title game on March 3 in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
Hill, who will be making her second straight national tournament appearance with the Stars, was named to the SAC All-Tournament team. She is averaging 7.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.19 blocks per game. However, in the SAC Tournament, her averages increased to 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.33 blocked shots per outing. She had started the past five games for the Stars.
“Alexis has been that do-everything player from the forward position. Because of some recent injuries, she has been asked to play more minutes and also score more,” Overton said.
Hill spent her first two seasons at Northern Oklahoma College in Enid.
Taylor averaged 10.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game as a senior at Ada, helping the Lady Cougars to a Class 4A semifinal appearance.
“We are super proud of Payton. I am not surprised at all in the success she has had as a freshman,” said Ada head coach Christie Jennings, Taylor’s former coach. “I just wish I could have watched her play more this season. She is playing for a great coach and a great program. She has a very bright future at OCU.”
Laramie Edens, a former Latta High School standout, helped Friends University (Wichita, Kansas) make an appearance as the 27th annual NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship last week at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
No. 11 Northwestern (Iowa) defeated the 21st-ranked Falcons 81-74 in an 8:30 a.m. matchup Wednesday morning. It was the third straight national tournament bid for the Falcons.
Edens, a 6-0 junior, finished with six points, three rebounds and two blocks in the loss.
The Falcons finished the season at 24-9 and were the KCAC regular-season champions. Friends had won 15 of its last 16 games entering the NAIA Tournament.
Edens averaged 8.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while collecting a team-high 19 blocked shots to go with 37 steals. She finished the season 47-of-54 (87 percent) from the free-throw line and hit 9-of-20 (45 percent) of her 3-point attempts.