When the Western Nebraska Community College and Casper College basketball teams get together Tuesday at Cougar Palace, it will be more than a typical basketball game.
Tuesday’s early season encounter will pit two Top 20 ranked teams against each other on the women’s side with a 5:30 start followed by a men’s contest that will have another battle when No. 14 Casper comes in to face a WNCC team that just upended Western Wyoming Community College on Saturday, a team that received votes in the latest NJCAA national polls.
The women’s contest will be a rematch of last year’s Region IX championship game in which the Cougar women won 65-60. The early season game could be a preview of another championship game. WNCC sophomore Taylor Joplin said it will be a good contest for fans to come out and watch.
“It’s going to be a close game and it’s going to come down to just a couple of possessions,” Joplin said. “So, it’s going to be very exciting.”
The early season encounter will pit the Cougar women, who are 5-1 on the season and ranked No. 15 in the national poll, against a Casper team that is 7-0 and ranked 18th in the polls that were released Monday afternoon.
“Really, those rankings don’t mean anything before the game,” Joplin said. “We need to go prove that we are ranked 15th and that they are ranked 18th.”
WNCC’s only defeat came to No. 7 Hutchinson Community College 64-59 Nov. 8.
WNCC enters the contest as the 20th highest scoring team in the nation, averaging 85.3 points a game. Casper enters the game averaging 73.1 points a game.
For the Cougars to win, Joplin said they will need to play their game.
“The most important thing that is going to be key in this game is going to be our defense and our rebounding,” she said. “We also need to be able to get some easy transition points and make them play against our set defense.”
WNCC has four players averaging in double figures. Tishara Morehouse leads the team at 18.5 points a contest followed by Yuliyana Valcheva at 11.7. Joplin is next at 10.3 along with Lidsey Mahoukou who is also averaging 10.3.
Casper has four players in double figures, led by Natalia Otkhmezuri at 12.6 points followed by Juneau Jones at 11.4 and Marija Bakic at 10.9. Mya Jones is averaging 10 points a game.
Just like the women’s game, the men’s contest has some high scoring players as well. WNCC has the nation’s leading scoring in Teddy Allen. Allen is averaging 30.7 points a contest. Allen scored 43 in a 90-83 win over Western Wyoming Community College on Saturday.
Casper College has the 21st highest scoring player in the nation in sophomore David Walker. Walker is averaging 22 points a contest, The Thunderbirds also have Jalen Harris averaging 16.0 points a contest.
The WNCC men have four players in double figures. After Allen’s 30.7 points, Kenny Strawbridge is averaging 11.4 points followed by Jordan Smith at 11 and James Felton at 106.
The WNCC men moved above .500 after winning two games last week. The Cougars, 4-3, topped Laramie County Community College 103-92 before taking down Western Wyoming 90-83 on Saturday in a game that saw WNCC come back from a 49-41 halftime deficit and hold the Mustangs to just 34 second half points for the win.
Casper is 5-1 after splitting a pair of contests over the weekend. The Thunderbirds fell to Williston State 86-73 before bouncing back to top Minnesota Prep Academy 96-81.