Cougar men end season at regional tourney
     2016-03-13      By Media Report    editor@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Mark Rein/WNCC Chase Mason goes up for a lay-up in their game last month against Eastern Wyoming College. 
LAJUNTA, Colo. — The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team didn’t have an answer to Casper College’s scoring as the Cougar men ended their season March 3 at the Region IX tournament in LaJunta, Colo. with an 89-69 loss, finishing their season at 18-14.

WNCC coach Russ Beck said, bottom line, Thursday night they just couldn’t get the ball through the hoop. “Although we prepared all week to win, we just didn’t make shots in the first half,” he said “The success of a coach and his players is largely judged on one thing, putting the ball in the basket. Tough way to make a living when the best of shooters only make it go through the hoop 50 percent of the time. Yet, such is the life.”

Beck was still proud of his team how they fought all season. “We have a great group of young men,” he said. “This is a young group of guys that grew through the season amidst adversity. The loss of Andrew Ramirez to knee surgery really hurt us and we struggled to fill the void with his passing, defense and control of the game. Life rarely turns out the way you expect and we all had big expectations with this team. I will cherish the good memories that we made and the way they competed and never gave up.”

The Casper and WNCC game was a mixture of Casper making a late run in the final five minutes of the first half to lead 42-26 at halftime. In the second half, Casper scored the first nine points and led 51-26.

The Cougars did put together a mini run, slicing the lead to under 20 at 60-41. The Cougars were even in clawing distance with five minutes to play when Michael Sparks nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 71-54. But, each time WNCC would make a bucket, the Thunderbirds answered.

WNCC outshot Casper from the field 45 percent to 44 percent. The difference, however, was 3-point shooting and free throw shooting. WNCC connected on just 5 of 15 shots from behind the arc and 16 of 24 charity shots. Casper converted 10 of 22 treys and were a blistering 25 of 28 from the free throw line.

WNCC also out-rebounded Casper 38-33. Phil Fayne finished with a double-double, collecting 13 rebounds and finishing with 16 points.

Fayne, however, was the only Cougar to finish with double digit scoring. Tyrell Willams was next in line with eight points, while Derrick Bowers, Daylon Harris, and Michael Connor each had seven points.

Casper had three players finish in double digits. LJ Westbrook led the way with 17 points while also pulling down six rebounds and connecting on two treys. Deante Strickland finished with 13 points followed by Warren Dix with 11 points.

WNCC (18-14) 26 43 – 69

Casper (24-8) 42 47 – 89

WNCC

Mason Smith 4, Michael Sparks 6, Bo McVay 1, Derrick Bowers 7, Tyrell Williams 8, Daylon Harris 7, RJ Palmer 2, Austin Payne 6, Michael Connor 7, Chase Mason 5, Phil Fayne 16.

CASPER

LJ Westbrook 17, Gerad Davis 6, Deante Strickland 13, Shea Garland 9, Chris Snyder 6, Isaiah Lewis 5, Don Jarrett 8, Warren Dix 11, Benson Odayande 4, Vincent Franklin 8.

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