Posted 11 months ago
By John Axtell
The Cougar men will get back into action Tuesday, but not with the opponent they expected.
ABCD Prep was scheduled to come to Cougar Palace, but their bus broke down Monday and the YMCA All-Stars stepped in at the last minute as a replacement.
Still on tap for the WNCC are a pair of key sub-region contests this weekend, #6 North Platte Community College on Friday at 7:30 and then McCook Community College Saturday afternoon at 4:00.
Both will be doubleheaders with the Lady Cougars, although the women’s opponent on Friday at 5:30 will be Northwest Kansas Technical College instead of North Platte and there will be free admission to all spectators that evening. Saturday’s women’s game tips off at 2:00.
North Platte is a perfect 12-0 on the season and 4-0 in conference play. WNCC men’s coach Russ Beck said his team is ready to face another Top 10 ranked team come Friday night.
“I think our guys are very eager to face off against another ranked opponent,” he said. “We are a really young team with just two sophomores and everyone else is a freshman. We played CSI, Salt Lake and South Plains early and I don’t think we had enough experience to win those games. This team is really eager to show what they can do. We feel like we made big strides as a team and we have a potential to go out and beat top 10 teams.”
First and foremost, though, Beck said his team have to concentrate on Tuesday’s home game against the YMCA All-stars, a team that consists of some of the top players from around the region, including Chris and Ryan Guzman, Rick and Ethan Ayala, Gill Trimbull, Kyle Cotton, Brett Meyer, Kaden Hubbard, and Aaron Fabel.
The Cougars, however, are also playing some of their best basketball right know. WNCC has won six of their last eight games and have put themselves in position to win the sub-region and host the Region IX tournament in March.
“Two wins at home this weekend in the sub-region would put us neck-to-neck in contention for the first seed with several games to play the rest of the season,” Beck said. “If you want a chance to host the tournament, you have to be in the mix.”
And, right, now the Cougar men are in the mix for the top seed from the south sub-region. WNCC comes into the second semester with a 9-6 record and they are 2-1 in sub-region play, only trailing North Platte (4-0) and McCook and Laramie County, who are both 3-1.
Beck said this team has found the chemistry they need to be success and everyone came back from break with renewed interest in trying to earn a berth to the national tournament.
“I think we found a recipe for success in terms of what we are doing defensively,” Beck said. “Offensively, we are finding a better rhythm and kind of sharing the wealth and sharing the love of the ball offensively. I like where we are at right know. If we can pick up where we left off and continue to get better and playing our best basketball in February.
“Brandon Morley is looking really good right now and Diante Mitchell and Tyler Crosbie are shooting the ball well in practice. We are excited about the second semester and the challenges that we have.”
The Cougar women, 12-3 and ranked 15th in the nation, lost for the first time in sub-region play in their last game before break to Trinidad State Junior College 80-69. The loss dropped the Cougars into a tie for fourth in the sub-region with Eastern Wyoming and Northeastern Junior College. Lamar Community College leads the sub-region race with a 1-0 mark followed by Otero at 3-1 and Trinidad at 2-1.
McCook is 1-14 on the season and 0-4 in conference play. The Indians have lost 12 straight. The Indians will get back into action Tuesday night when they host the Nebraska All-stars, before taking on EWC on Friday.
Men’s Region IX Standings
Northeastern JC 2-2 13-2
Eastern Wyoming 0-3 8-6
Central Wyoming 2-1 8-7
Sheridan College 2-1 14-3
Western Wyoming 1-2 7-9
Northwest Wyoming 1-2 11-5
Little Big Horn
Women’s Region IX Standings
Eastern Wyoming 1-1 6-7
Northeastern J.C. 1-1 7-7
Northwest Wyoming 3-0 12-5
Western Wyoming 3-0 14-2
Central Wyoming 0-3 6-8
Little Big Horn