Christopher Maple, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
ALVA – The long wait for the Ranger Basketball season is about to end. The schedule is final, and the home opener is scheduled for Jan. 1, against Oklahoma Panhandle State University. “We know that a lot of people worked hard on putting together a schedule for all of the teams in the GAC. I want to thank our president, Dr. Janet Cunningham, and Athletic Director, Brad Franz, for their work to help make this happen for our student-athletes,” Head Coach Vinay Patel.
The league’s basketball season will feature a 20-game divisional schedule with an opening night slated for Thursday, Jan. 7, with six doubleheaders – Arkansas Tech at Arkansas-Monticello, Southwestern Oklahoma State at East Central, Ouachita Baptist at Harding, Southern Arkansas at Henderson State, Southern Nazarene at Northwestern Oklahoma State and Southeastern Oklahoma State at Oklahoma Baptist.
The 2021 basketball season will look significantly different than the traditional basketball schedule. In years past, once the season got to conference play, each team would play against one another twice a season with one home and one road tilt per season. The 2021 season due to COVID-19 will run differently, with each school only playing games in their respective state. Instead of facing each opponent twice, Northwestern will face off against each Oklahoma school four times, with two of those games home and two on the road.
Along with the conference games, the Rangers have scheduled two non-conference opponents on back-to-back evenings. The Rangers will welcome in the New Year by playing against Oklahoma Panhandle State University at 4 on New Year’s Day. The second one will also be a home matchup on Saturday, Jan. 2, against Randall University at 4.
“Although our schedule does not resemble what we initially put together, we are excited at the opportunity to play once again. Our guys have worked extremely hard to prepare themselves to compete at the highest level each night. We were fortunate enough to find two non-conference games against teams that we know will help prepare us for conference play.” Coach Patel on the schedule.
There will be 22 games played, 20 conference, and two non-conference with 12 Home games in Percefull Fieldhouse, along with 10 road games. The Rangers’ season opens with four consecutive games at home on Jan. 1, Jan. 2, Jan. 7, and Jan. 9. The first road game will be on Jan. 11 at 7:30 against Southwestern Oklahoma State University. The season will conclude on Feb. 27 at 4 in Percefull Fieldhouse against East Central University before the conference playoffs begin.
Last season the Rangers went 10-18 with a 7-15 conference record. The Red-and-Black enter the season coached by Patel, who begins his second season with the program. Northwestern will return its leading scorer in senior Parrish Hewitt, who averaged 14.8 points per game, and their two leading three-point shooters in Cole Jones and Jack Peck.