The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team never trailed and rolled to a 103-87 Region IX South sub-region win over Otero Junior College Friday night at Cougar Palace.
The 23rd-ranked Cougars, who moved to 13-5 on the season used a strong defensive effort and balanced scoring with five in double figures in stopping a 3-game losing skid.
Marquis White, who finished with 17 points, said this was a good performance from the entire team.
“I thought we played really good. We finally locked into the defensive side,” White said. “I think we held them to under 40 percent in the first half. That was really key for us and I know it was big for our coach for us to play defense.”
More importantly, the win stopped that losing streak and White said it feels good to get back on the winning side of things.
“It was a big win for us to get out of the losing column,” White said. “Every time we lose a game we want to bounce back with a win. We don’t want to lose period, so this is a big win for us to get back in the win column, lift our spirits up and hopefully get some momentum here.”
WNCC ignited early behind a strong defense and a strong inside game. Martin Roub had 10 points in the paint of the Cougars’ first 23 points and sprinkle in a 3-pointer here and there, the Cougars quickly moved the game to a double-digit contest.
“That [playing good defense] is important for us. That is one of our keys to play defense, rotate, and stop them overall,” White said. “If we stop our opponents, we feel like we can score with anybody in the country. Defense was big for us.”
Otero sliced the lead to 23-17 midway through the first half only to watch the Cougars explode for 33 points to hold a 56-34 lead at halftime. White was one of the big contributors in the first-half scoring explosion and then Jervay Green scored eight points late.
White said it was a balanced offensive attack.
“We have a lot of weapons on offense,” White said. “One through five everybody can score the ball so we like to move it. We like to get everybody going and whoever gets hot, gets hot.”
The second half saw Otero the game to within 14 points on a couple occasions, the last time at 72-58. WNCC then went on a 6-0 run behind four points from Green and a bucket by White for a 78-28 lead. WNCC hit the century mark with 1:53 to play on a Roub bucket for the win.
The Cougars had colorful scoring on the night. Roub and Bryce Sanchious led the team with 22 points followed by 19 from Green, 17 from white, and 14 from Dru Kuxhausen.
WNCC shot 57 percent from the field and buried 9 of 27 3-pointers. Sanchious had three treys, while Kuxhausen and Green each had two.
WNCC’s defense was strong as they held Otero to under 40 percent shooting in the first half and 42.3 percent from the game.
The Rattlers had six players in double figures. Sam Mack had 14 points while Yaniel Vidal and Tramarcus Levi each had 13. AJ Youngman had 12, while Reggie Gibson and Wesley Harris each had 10.
WNCC, 13-5, will be back in action next weekend when they hit the road for a pair of South sub-region contests when they battle Northeastern Junior College on Friday and Lamar Community College on Saturday.
“We will play the same way, lock it in on defense and hopefully come out with a win in both games,” White said. “
Otero 34 53 – 87
WNCC 56 47 – 103
Reggie Gibson 10, Jamal Harris 5, Jacob Jackson 2, KJ Harris 1, Darius Chester 7, Yaniel Vidal 13, Tramarcus Levi 13, Sam Mack 14, AJ Youngman 12, Wesley Harris 10.
Dru Kuxhausen 14, Marquis White 17, LeBeck Warren 6, Bryce Sanchious 22, TJ O’Conor 3, Jervay Green 19, Martin Roub 22.