WNCC men earn win over Laramie 93-88
     2016-01-29      By Media Report    editor@geringcitizen.com
The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team received 25 points from Michael Connor and the Cougars captured their fourth straight win with a 93-88 win over Laramie County Community College Jan. 22 at Cougar Palace in a South Sub-region contest.

The win moves the Cougars to 4-5 in South play and 14-7 overall. The Cougars are just a half a game out of third place. Laramie County, with the loss, falls to 6-4 in South play. The Golden Eagles are still in second place. There is a logjam for third through sixth with four teams tied at 4-4 after play Friday.

Besides WNCC’s win over LCCC in South play, Trinidad State defeated Northeastern Junior College 83-69 while Otero topped Lamar 98-63.

Friday’s contest was a battle between two evenly matched teams. There were 11 ties and 10 lead changes in the contest. WNCC held the largest lead in the game at 23-14 with 10 minutes to play in the first half.

That, however, meant very little as after that the two teams never led by more than six points.

WNCC coach Russ Beck was pleased with the win.

“They did a good job tonight. We were able to get the right shooters to the line and hit shots,” he said. “We got some defensive stops when we needed them. I was happy to see us get the win.”

It was definitely a game that anyone could have won. WNCC held a one-point lead with four minutes to play, 75-75 and watched LCCC come back to take the lead just once at 80-79 on four free throws.

That final three minutes was the difference. WNCC came back to retake the lead on a bucket by Daylon Harris and then Connor connected on a 3-point play to put WNCC up 84-80 with 2:18 to play. LCCC came back to knot the score at 84, but that was when WNCC, more or less, put the game away on a bucket by Tyrell Williams and four free throws by Michael Sparks for a 90-84 lead with 30 seconds to play.

Beck said that WNCC is at their best when they push the pace a little bit and that is what they did Friday night.

“Anybody that has come out and watched us this year understands that we are at our best when we are running the fast break,” he said. “We got athletes. We got shooters. We have the pieces that we need in an open floor game and that is when we are pretty dangerous. When that momentum stops and it goes from walking from one end to the other for free throws, it keeps us out of what we are best at.”

The big difference in the game was shooting. WNCC shot 53 percent from the field and connected on eight 3-pointers. Connor had four and Sparks and Chase Mason each had two. LCCC shot 41 percent from the floor and buried five treys, four from Gavin Peppers.

That shooting was crucial as Laramie County converted 14 more free throws than WNCC. The Golden Eagles were 35 of 41 from the line.
Peppers peppered the charity stripe with 14 of 14 shooting, while Dominik Heinzl was 9 of 10.

The Cougars connected on 21 of 35 free throws.

WNCC had four players in double figures. After Connor’s 25-point explosion with four 3-pointers and 5 of 6 from the charity stripe, Williams finished with 18 points. He also cleaned the glass with nine rebounds.

Harris and Sparks each finished with 12 points while Phil Fayne had nine points, followed by Mason and Mason Smith each with eight.
Beck said it was nice to see the redshirt freshman step up.

“I am so happy for him. Here is a kid that redshirted for us last year,” he said. “About midseason last year he was homesick and wanted to go home and this fall his dad was in the hospital for an extended amount of time so for him to come out who we thought would be our 12th or 13th guy, he is basically a proven starter. He can go off for 25 points and he hits those big shots. When we needed a big play, Connor seemed to step up and make that play.”

Peppers led all scorers with 34 points for LCCC. He also dished off five assists and pulled down five rebounds.

The Golden Eagles also had two others collected double digits with Heinzl getting 19 and Jerry Luckett collecting 13.

WNCC was supposed to play Saturday against Fort Berthold Community College in a men’s and women’s doubleheader, but those games were postponed after the Fort Berthold men’s basketball bus was involved in a wreck. Those games will be made up at a later date.

Next action for the Cougars will be Monday night as the Cougar women will face Hastings College junior varsity at 6 p.m. After that, both squads will go on the road to face Trinidad State and Otero Junior College in South Sub-region games.

LCCC (14-8) 41 47 – 88

WNCC (14-7) 39 54 – 93

LCCC

Alfonzo Anderson 2, Gavin Peppers 34, Josh McNair 5, Naseem Hadrab 2, Jerry Luckett 13, Iziah Sherman-Newsome 2, Ola Ayodele 4, Dominik Heinzl 19, Michael Obindu 3, Matt Glasscock 4.

WNCC

Daylon Harris 12, Mason Smith 8, Michael Sparks 12, Leon Tomic 1, Michael Connor 25, Chase Mason 8, Phil Fayne 9, Tyrell Williams 18.

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