The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team competed with Williston State College for much of the contest, but in the end, the Tetons had four players score over 20 points in registering a 94-82 win Friday night at Cougar Palace.
WNCC will look to get back on track Saturday afternoon as the Cougars host Rexburg United at 4 p.m. Rexburg fell to Northeastern Junior College in the first game Friday 81-58.
Saturday’s slate of contests will pit Williston State against NJC at noon followed by the WNCC women taking on the Williston State women at 2 p.m. with the Cougar men to follow.
Williston’s win on Friday came because of timely shooting. The Tetons shot 54 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc. Williston buried 14 3-pointers, eight of which came in the second half.
WNCC shot 44 percent from the field and were just 35 percent from beyond the arc. WNCC buried nine treys.
WNCC coach Cory Fehringer said shooting was the difference in the game.
“They shot a better percentage from the arc than the field,” he said. “That is tough to deal with. They were also 10 of 12 from the free throw line. Honestly, they had more kids that were more capable than us tonight. They had more baskets. Our kids had good and missed them, and they had good looks and they make them. We will continue to talk to our youngsters that the work you put in when no one is watching is extremely important.”
A big key for the Cougars is they have a short turn around as they have to get ready to play tomorrow and they can put this game behind them quickly.
“I keep telling the kids that nobody is going to remember November,” Fehringer said. “I have been off to some great starts in November, top 15 in the country, but it will matter where we finish in March. This team has to continue to refocus. Lineups keep changing. There is a generous amount of gratitude from me to continue to compete. But the end result isn’t what we want; we just have to continue to get back in the gym and work.”
As much as the shooting percentages were off, the contest was tight as both teams battling strong. The first half was a back and forth half. WNCC held a 19-17 lead on a Mohamed Youssef 3-pointer. Williston then went on a 13-0 run to move the lead to 30-19. Williston later led 40-25 on a 3-pointer with 3:21 to play. WNCC came storming back, going on a 11-0 run behind two dunks by Kenny Strawbridge and a trey by Conner McCracken to cut the Williston lead to four, 40-36. Williston led 42-38 at halftime.
Williston jumped up 48-41 early in the second half only to watch the Cougars come storming back on an 8-0 run to lead 49-48 on an Elie Cadet bucket. WNCC led 53-52 later on a 3-pointers.
WNCC kept staying with Williston, cutting the Tetons lead to two points on several occasions, including 62-60 on a Sami Harun trey. Back-to-back Kalen Williams’ buckets had the Cougars within three, 67-64.
That was when Williston put some distance on the scoreboard, grabbing a 76-54 lead and never let the Cougars get back to within single digits the rest of the way.
Williston had three players with over 20 points. Shae Linton-Brown had a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds. Linton-Brown also buried five 3-pointers. Jordan Keller kipped in 24 points while Eden Holt had 20 points. Both Holt and Keller each had seven rebounds.
WNCC had four players in double figures. Kenny Strawbridge led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds. Kalen Williams finished with 17 points, while Conner McCracken had 11 points with three 3-pointers. Sami Harun finished with 10 points.
Rexburg 32 26 – 58
NJC 41 50 – 91
Randall Robinson 2, Enow Asemeyong 7, Dan Heintz 7, Tyler Shippen 16, Preston Hummer 2, Trey Thatcher 15, Cody Spjute 9.
Quincey Jewett 2, Dalton Knecht 19, Deshiloh Stanley 4, Cyler Johnson 2, Moz Doria 6, Ryan Bagley 9, Mohamed Diallo 6, Wade Kellogg 8, Andrew Ferrin 9, Jared Adams 11, Stefon Rogers 6, Rashon Barron 4, Sami Logoro 5.
Williston 42 52 – 94
WNCC 38 44 – 82
Isaiah Williams 6, Eden Holt 20, Paul MacSteves 3, Jordan Kellier 24, Kobey Lam 8, Shae Linton-Brown 27, Nathaniel Powell 4, Jonathan Komagum 2.
Jarred Rosser 7, Conner McCracken 11, Sami Harun 10, Jordan Smith 7, Kalen Williams 17, James Felton 2, Kenny Strawbridge 18, Elie Cadet 7, Mahamed Youssef 3.