Cougars set to host McCook

The Western Nebraska Community College men's and women's basketball teams will look to make an impact in the sub-region standings when they host McCook Community College in key south sub-region games on Friday at Cougar Palace.

For the Cougar women, they will be hoping to stay unbeaten in sub-region play and hopes of hosting the Region IX tournament in March. The Cougar women enter with a 1-0 sub-region record after dropping Lamar Community College on Tuesday 79-62. Friday's tipoff with McCook is slated for 5:30 p.m.

"It [playing at home] is important considering all the stuff we have been going through the last month," WNCC sophomore and Morrill graduate Jessica Aratani said. "Everyone is supporting us and the forfeitures have been a big motivator. It motivates us more to work hard for our team and to just make the best out of the situation. We just need to prove to everyone that we have what it takes to get on top."

The Cougar men, 0-1 in sub-region play, will look to make a move up in the standings against a McCook team that has talent. For the Cougars, however, it is all about just playing their game. WNCC will begin a stretch of four straight home sub-region games beginning Friday.

A win Friday will go a long ways in reshuffling the sub-region standings for the men.

"This is a pretty big game since we are coming off of two losses," WNCC freshman and Scottsbluff graduate Rich Williams said. "They [McCook] is one of our rivals so it will be big if we can get a win."

The Cougar men have played well in their last five contests despite suffering defeats in their last three games. The men have also played three overtime games in that stretch. Williams, who had a big trey in the loss to Northwest Kansas in overtime on Monday, said this is the start of crucial stretch where they will have four straight home games.

"You just have to be confident in the game," he said. "I came off the bench and hit a big three after it started off with Trey Moore's big 3-pointer. We now have four straight home games and they are sub-region opponents, too."

Williams said in order for the team to capture a win against McCook, it will take playing their game.

"Defense and just playing as a team is the keys," he said. "The past two nights I thought we did pretty well even though we didn't come up with a win."

The women's team has a lot more to play for and with what has transpired with the team over the past month, this team is more motivated than ever. The Cougar women have been playing well offensively and defensively where they are averaging 80 points a game while giving up just 42.8 points a game.

In fact, since the forfeiture of 13 games, the women have won four straight, including topping Northwest Kansas Technical College on Monday 88-52 and then Lamar. They also defeated Colorado Christian junior varsity 71-52 and Air Force Prep 92-44.

Aratani said this team just needs to play like they did in the second half of the Lamar contest to get their second sub-region win against McCook.

"At Lamar we ran into some foul trouble (in the first half), but we came out in the second half and did everything well," she said. "We looked good against them and we just have to be ready for McCook. Every league game now is important. We still have a chance of hosting regionals."

Against Lamar, the Cougar defense held the Runnin' Lopes to just 18 points. Aratani said this team prides themselves on defense, where they look to hold their opponents to under 50 points.

"We pride ourselves on defense," she said. "Defense is pretty much what motivates us on offense. Teams are scared of us and they fear our good full-court pressure all the time. We try to hold the team to under 50 points. That is our goal."

After the McCook contest, the two teams will be back at home next weekend when they host Trinidad State Friday night and then Otero Junior College Saturday afternoon.

Region IX Standings

Men's Basketball – South Sub-region

Team Conf. Overall

Lamar 3-0 9-6

North Platte 2-0 11-2

Trinidad State 2-0 9-4

Laramie County 3-1 13-4

Eastern Wyoming 2-2 7-6

Otero 1-2 13-4

WNCC 0-1 6-8

NE Colorado 0-3 3-11

McCook 0-4 4-9

Men's Basketball – North Sub-Region

Casper 4-0 13-3

Sheridan 3-1 14-4

Gillette 3-1 9-6

Central Wyoming 3-1 13-3

Northwest Wyoming 2-2 13-5

Miles 1-2 7-9

Little Big Horn 1-3 4-13

Dawson 1-4 4-11

Western Wyoming 0-4 3-14

Women's Basketball – South Sub-region

Team Conf. Overall

Western Nebraska 1-0 4-13

Trinidad State 1-1 10-5

McCook 2-1 13-2

Otero 1-1 10-4

Lamar 1-2 12-7

Eastern Wyoming 1-2 5-6

NE Colorado 0-1 8-7

Women's Basketball – North Sub-Region

Sheridan 4-0 13-4

Western Wyoming 4-0 14-2

Casper College 3-1 14-2

Northwest Wyoming 3-1 10-8

Gillette 2-2 14-3

Miles 1-2 10-6

Dawson 1-4 8-7

Central Wyoming 0-4 7-10

Little Big Horn 0-4 2-15

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