The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team overcame a 14-point halftime time deficit to register a 90-85 win over McCook Community College in a South Sub-region contest Saturday at Cougar Palace.
The Cougars shooting was as sizzling Friday night in a 110-55 win over North Platte overall. The difference in the game was the two halves. In the opening half, WNCC shot 37 percent and made just 4 of 18 3-pointers. The second half saw the Cougars ignite for 61 percent shooting and connect on 6 of 11 treys.
Jervay Green, who had a couple monster dunks to help ignite the Cougars, said they knew what they needed to do.
“The first half we struggled a little bit but we picked it up in the second half,” Green said. “The key between the first and second half was we needed to rebound and play defense. Our defense and rebounding was not good at all. When we got to the locker room, coach talked to us. We came out and fought and got the win.”
The win kept the Cougars atop the South sub-region standings at 7-1 followed by Otero and Trinidad State, who are tied at 5-2.
The two halves were like night and day for the Cougar men. McCook controlled practically everything in the first half. WNCC only had a couple leads in the first half, the last time at 23-21. It was then the Indians went on a 7-0 run to take a 28-23 lead. WNCC got a bucket, but McCook ignited for a 12-0 run to lead 40-25 and then held a 48-34 lead at halftime.
The second half saw McCook lead 52-36 early before the Cougars exploded behind Trent Harris, who nailed a 3-pointer and then got a steal and an easy lay-in. WNCC took its first lead since the first half when Harris hit a trey with 9:45 to play.
That lead was all the Cougars needed as Marko Rajanovic hit for a trey to put WNCC up 73-66. WNCC led by nine points, 84-75 after Djodje Dimitrijevic hit 3 of 4 free throws with under two minutes to play.
McCook kept fighting but each bucket the Indians made, WNCC came back down and hit clutch free throws to seal the win.
Green said the defensive intensity in the second half was crucial.
“We need to play defense because teams are starting to get better and better, so we have to keep fighting for the wins,”
WNCC had five players in double figures. Harris led the team with 22 points, including four 3-pointers with five rebounds and four steals. Green chipped in 17 points, including six rebounds and four assists.
Also hitting for double digits were Vinnie Shahid with 14 points, Marlon Sierra with 11, and Dimitrijevic with 10. Shahid also had eight assists in the win.
WNCC, 17-4, will be back in action Saturday afternoon when they host Northeastern Junior College in a 4 p.m. start.
McCook (13-5) 48 37 – 85
WNCC (17-4) 34 57 – 91
D’Von Moore 5, Kairee Forte 10, Andrew Epps II 2, Shevelle Bailey 14, Isaiah Richardson 13, Chuol Biel 9, Chinedu Okonkwo 23.
Trent Harris 22, Bryce Sanchious 2, Vinnie Shahid 14, Marlon Sierra 11, Marko Rajanovic 7, Jervay Green 17, Djodje Dimitrijevic 10, Martin Roub 7.