HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Vinnie Shahid and Jervay Green combined for 45 points and the Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team opened the NJCAA national tournament with an 87-73 win over Holmes Community College Monday afternoon in Hutchinson, Kansas.
WNCC advances to the quarterfinals to face No. 2 seen Northwest Florida State College on Tuesday at 5;30 p.m. MST. Northwest earned a first-round bye.
“Winning the first game at the national tournament feels great,” assistant coach Roybell Baez said. “We’ve always known we were a national tournament team.”
WNCC last appeared officially at the national tournament was 2001. In 1999, the Cougars went 3-1 in the tournament, beating Trinity Valley Community College for 9th place.
Tuesday night the Cougars played tough from start to finish. WNCC only trailed twice in the contest in posting its 27th win of the season.
Holmes made the opening bucket of the game and then led for just a few seconds in the second half at 60-59. Other than that, the Cougars dominated play with a strong defense and offensive points at the right time.
“The team played with poise and confidence,” Baez said. “It was not only confidence in their team but confidence in their teammates.”
WNCC had a good falling of fans at the national tournament. Baez said that was a plus in the team’s win.
“It’s really an unreal feeling,” Baez said about playing at the national tournament. “We had so many fans and coaches watching but our kids are used to the big crowds at the Palace.”
The Cougars opened the game by grabbing a 12-5 lead ona Green bucket. With the game at 12-11, WNCC went on a 12-3 run to lead 24-14 on two Trent Harris 3-pointers. The Cougars pushed the lea to 38-26 before Holmes went on an 8-0 run to slice the deficit to 38-34. Harris stopped the run with a trey and WNCC led at halftime 44-38.
WNCC started the second half on a 6-0 run to lead to 50-38. WNCC kept playing strong grabbing a 58-45 lead. Holmes then kicked things into another gear, outscoring WNCC 15-1 to grabn a 60-59 lead with 10 minutes to play.
Shahid immediately stopped the fun with a bucket to give WNCC the lead once again. Shahid and Harris then buried treys for a 67-60 lead. WNCC led by double digits at 74-62. Djordje Dimitrijevic sealed the game when he hit a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer for an 81-71 lead.
WNCC shot 50 percent from the field and connected on 11 3-pointers. Holmes shot 36 percent from the field and made just five treys.
WNCC had four players in double figures. Green had 23 points followed by Shahid with 22, Harris 17 and Dimitrijevic with 12. Shahid had three 3-pointers with five assists, while Harris had four 3-pointers and six rebounds.
Marlon Sierra led the team on the glass with 11 boards.
Holmes 38 35 – 73
WNCC (27-7) 44 43 – 87
Marquell Carter 4, Trevais Spencer 7, Juriah Simpson 4, Kassim Nicholson 4, Jwvon Franklin 11, Stanley Williams 4, Mikkel Norment 18, Stribling D’Michael 2, Justin Johnson 17, Ross Winford 2.
Vinnie Shahid 22, Marlon Sierra 2, Jervay Green 23, Djordje Dimitrijevic 12, Martin Roub 6, Trent Harris 17.