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Strickland and Clift: Heartland leaders

Two Oklahoma Christian University basketball athletes swept the Heartland Conference Player of the Week Awards Dec. 4.

Senior Elijah Strickland earned his first career Heartland Conference honor after his career-high, 33-point performance in the Eagles’ win over Manhattan Christian University Nov. 28. On his way to 33 points, Strickland went 9-of-13 from three-point range, missing the school record by two for most three pointers in a game.

“I prepared a lot more going into my senior year and my mindset has changed a little bit,” Strickland said. “I’ve just been more relaxed, and my support system and my teammates have just built me up.”

The week Strickland won player of the week, the Eagles suffered their first conference loss of the season, 83–82, to Newman University Dec. 2.

Strickland finished with 27 points, went 5-of-8 from the three and became the 41st player at Oklahoma Christian to score 1,000 points.

Strickland said the passion for playing this year stems from the expectations of Coach Cole and his coaching staff.

“The whole coaching staff has been stressing to have an urgency about how we play and being urgent in every situation that we’re in,” Strickland said. “Just coming together, building each other’s confidence and trying to play together to get a win—anything we can do to get a win. One of our things is ‘refuse to lose,’ and that’s what we’ve been trying to stress a lot this year.”

Despite their motto of “refuse to lose,” the Eagles lost a close game to Newman. Down by one point, the Eagles regained possession with five seconds remaining on the clock. Sophomore Connor Johnson passed the ball to senior Miroslav Jaksic, who missed a two-point shot.

“Coach had a play for us and it just didn’t go our way,” Strickland said. “Miroslav was open and he had the guy behind him. Typically, that guy had usually been fouling a lot. We were hoping to get a foul call or an easy bucket. It didn’t turn out that way.”

Junior Addy Clift shoots a three-pointer against Newman University Dec. 2.
Junior Addy Clift shoots a three-pointer against Newman University Dec. 2. Photo by Steven Christy, courtesy of stevenchristyphotography.com. 

Junior Addy Clift earned the title of Heartland Conference women’s basketball Player of the Week—two weeks in a row—for her record setting performance of 42 points against Emporia State University Nov. 29.

Her 42 points scored against Emporia State was one away from the Oklahoma Christian record, but it was the highest points scored in a single game of any Heartland Conference player.

“It was crazy,” Clift said. “It was an insane game for me personally and a crazy atmosphere. We fought so hard and gave them a run for their money. I was leaving there thanking God for the opportunity.”

During that week, Clift led Oklahoma Christian with 18 points in the Lady Eagles first conference loss of the season to Newman University, 91–76, Dec. 2.

“We just have to all get used to playing with one another since it’s basically a new team and play better defense,” Clift said.

Currently, both Clift and Strickland lead the Heartland Conference in most points averaged per game.

Clift and Strickland will both play tomorrow in a double-header at the Nest. The Lady Eagles play Southern Nazarene University at 1 p.m. and the Eagles play Oklahoma Baptist University at 3 p.m.

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