Stevens leads Cougars to another win
The Western Nebraska Community College women put three players in double figures and put together a strong second half defensive effort in picking up their second straight sub-region win with a 72-54 win over McCook Community College on Friday at Cougar Palace.
The Cougars, in capturing the win, put three players in double figures. Bridgeport's Ashley Stevens led the way with 18 points followed by Gritt Ryder with 13 and Morrill's Jessica Aratani with 12.
Kelsey Doddridge, who finished with nine points, said the key to the game was coming out in the second half and playing their game. WNCC held a slim 31-30 lead at halftime.
Doddridge said the halftime speech by head coach Dave Harnish woke the team up.
"He [Harnish] told us that it was our choice, our team. He can coach us all he can, but it is our choice whether we come out and win this game," she said. "He said we have to do the playing and this is not who we are and how we play. We had to make the choice whether we wanted to win this game or give in."
In the second half, the Cougars outscored the Indians 41-24, including a 26-6 run that pushed the lead to 20 points with just under 13 minutes to play. The big key for the second half run was the team's defense, which generated a number of steals.
"We have stayed true to our defense all year because we know that is what got us here," Doddridge said. "We are a defensive team and we know that if we play good defense our offense will come."
The other thing that stood out was the team's turnovers. In the first half, the Cougars committed 11 turnovers and in the second half that went down to just eight. As for steals, the Cougars had 17 steals, led by Ryder with six and Aratani and Laurin Rivera with three each.
"He wasn't happy with the turnovers in the beginning and in the second half we came out and played our ball," she said. "The first 10 minutes we decided that we wanted to win this game and put it away. We played our defense and did it."
Ryder and Stevens paced the team during that crucial second half run. Ryder eight points while Stevens nine points. Aratani also tossed in four points, while Torrington's Mikayla Brower added five, including a big 3-pointer.
The Cougars pushed the lead to 35 with about two minutes to play on clutch free throw shooting and a 3-pointer by Laurin Rivera.
WNCC had balanced scoring on the night. Besides the three players in double digits, three others came within a point of hitting double figures finishing with nine points. They were Doddridge, Brower, and Rivera.
Shelby Hemmann led the Indians with a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Doddridge said the balanced scoring that the Cougars put up shows a lot about the team.
"We run an offense that everyone can score in," she said. "it is not set for one player and we know everyone has their strengths and everyone can score."
The Cougars, who have won five straight, will have two more sub-region contests next weekend when they host Trinidad State on Friday and Otero Junior College on Saturday.
"These are the games that count now that we are in the sub-region and we have to keep winning so we can get a Region IX championship," she said.
McCook 30 34 64
WNCC 32 41 72
Amir Davis 1, Akia Davis 14, Sydney Young 2, Tiffani Lewis 5, Mikaila Newton 8, Janecia Jenkins 2, Julie Gallegos 3, Shleby Hemmann 19,.
Mikayla Brower 9, Laurin Rivera 9, Kelsey Doddridge 9, Gritt Ryder 13, Katie Kerkhoff 2, Ashley Stevens 18, Jessica Aratani 12.
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