LA JUNTA, Colo. – Jervay Green poured in 35 points and the Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team moved into the semifinals of the Region IX tournament with a 77-67 win over Central Wyoming College Thursday afternoon in La Junta, Colorado.
The win was the Cougars 24th of the season and moves the Cougars into a contest with Sheridan Friday at 5 p.m. Sheridan was a 90-73 winner over Lamar Community College.
Green said that the team is excited to be moving into the semifinals after a good win Thursday.
“We played very well,” Green said. “We started a little slow, but then later in the game we started to pick it up.”
The Cougars did start a little slow in the contest. Trailing 16-14, the Cougars went on a 11-0 run behind a couple treys from Green to move the score to 25-16. Central Wyoming sliced the lead to 27-24 at one time but a 3-pointer by Trent Harris helped the Cougars get back on track and lead 37-27 at the half.
Green said the key for the team is to get up by double digits and once they can do that, they can try to maintain that lead.
“Whenever we go up on a team by double digits, it gives a lot of confidence to keep running up the score,” he said.
That is what the Cougars did, they kept the lead around the double-digit plateau the rest of the game, leading by 15, 59-44, at one time. A big reason for the Cougars play is the defense. WNCC limited the Rustlers to one shot attempt most of the game.
“That is real important in getting defensive rebounds,” Green said. “We rely on our defense and our offense. If we can get teams to miss the shot and we can come up with the rebound, we can get some transition points. That is big.”
The defense was huge for the Cougars on the day. WNCC held Central Wyoming to 40 percent shooting and just seven 3-pointers. WNCC shot 40 percent as well, but connected on 10 treys. The nine points was the difference from beyond the arc proved to be the difference in the game.
Green had the hot hand from beyond the arc with seven 3-pointers. Djordje Dimitrijevic had two while Harris had one.
Green wasn’t just hot from beyond the arc, he also had four field goals and was 6 of 8 from the free throw line. Green also had a double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds, while also dishing off four assists.
Harris was the only other Cougar in double digits, finishing with 14 points. Dimitrijevic tallied eight, while Vinnie Shahid, Marlon Sierra, and Martin Roub all had six points.
Green said that different nights different people step up scoring and that is what is nice with this team.
“Our whole team are players that can play basketball,” he said. “We can score. We can play defense. We can play anywhere on the floor. If we do those things, we can come out victorious.”
WNCC will be looking to get into the finals for the first time since 2003, when they actually won the regional title against Eastern Wyoming College before having to forfeit the title away.
Green said getting to the semis keeps their goal of a regional title alive.
“[Getting to the finals is great,” he said. “We have a lot of confidence and right now we are watching the next game and whoever wins this next game is who we play. We feel real confident that we can come out with a win in that game and then the next. Hopefully we can get that regional championship.”
WNCC will need to put everything together on the court to get that win against No. 16 Sheridan College. Green said playing defense is a must come Fridaynight.
“We definitely have to rebound,” Green said. “If we play like we have been like we have been playing, we will be fine.
The other side of the bracket will see Trinidad State Junior College facing Otero Junior College. Trinidad upset Gillette College 96-84, while Otero ran over Casper 86-77.
C. Wyoming 27 40 – 67
WNCC (24-7) 37 40 – 77
Irshaad Hunte 16, Colter Galante 3, Devon Colley 11, Henry Tanksley 4, Broc Finstuen 19, Marquis White 4, Jamison Washington 2, Baris Ulker 8.
Marlon Sierra 6, Martin Roub 6, Vinnie Shahid 6, Jervay Green 35, Djordje Dimitrijevic 8, Trent Harris 14, Bryce Sanchious 2, Marko Rajanovic 1.