The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team had a team effort win for their seventh win of the season with an 87-68 win over Jump Start Academy to wrap up the WNCC Classic Saturday evening at Cougar Palace.

            CJ Johnson and Carl Thorpe led the team with 15 points each in the win. Thorpe had a double-double with 10 rebounds. Also scoring in double digits were Ahmari Samuel and Stephen Ovia each with 13 points.

            More importantly, all the players that saw action scored in the win.

            “I feel like we played very well,” Johnson said. “We had a slow start and had troubles, but we all came together and pulled together to get the win.”

            Slow starts have been something that Cougars have had in past games this season. Johnson said they need to learn to play a full 40 minutes so they don’t have to fight to come back.

            “We have to learn to play hard for 40 minutes instead of starting the engine up later on,” Johnson said. “The main thing is we need to be one when we get out there on the court. That is something that we need to work on when we get back on the practice court.”

            Johnson said that the win shows the depth on the team as several players contributed in different fashions. All 13 players that saw action scored. After the four in double figures, Dimitrije Nikolic and Zach O’Callaghan each had eight points.

            “We are a very talented team and the skies the limit,” Johnson said. “I feel like we can put things together and everyone can score.”

            Jump Start stayed with WNCC for much of the first quarter as they led 9-5 and 12-10. WNCC took a 25-19 lead with 8:53 to play on a Rodney Sawyer dunk, but the Jump Start Snow Foxes answered with a trey to make it 25-22. WNCC then went on a 13-0 run to lead 38-22 and led at intermission 45-33.

            Jump Start made the second half interesting as the Snow Foxes came out of the locker room on a 9-0 run to trail the Cougars 45-42. Biko Johnson stopped Jump Start’s run with a bucket with 16:31 to play. 

            WNCC went up 52-44 on Thorpe’s four free throws and pushed the lead to 65-49 on a bucket by O’Callaghan. WNCC led 80-66 late and closed out the game with a 7-2 run for the 87-68 win.

            WNCC shot 51% from the field and buried seven 3-pointers. Jump Start shot 37% and made eight treys. 

            WNCC also had a 45-37 rebound advantage as Thorpe had 10 boards followed by Enzo Clouvel-Urie with seven and Samuel with four.

            The Cougars will be back in action Tuesday when they travel to Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to wrap up the first semester.

            The other men’s game of the WNCC Classic was a classic as Northwest outscored Otero 55-39 in the second half to force overtime tied at 86 all. The overtime period saw Otero earn the win by outsourcing the Trappers 10-7 in claiming the 96-93 overtime victory.


Jumpstart        33 35 – 68

WNCC             45 42 – 87


Austin Young 15, Tyler Boyack 13, Ben Hunt 12, Payton Lloyd 9, Tyler Scoresby 9, Stockton Lloyd 5, Alex Lott 5.


Carl Thorpe 15, CJ Johnson 15, Ahmari Samuel 13, Stephen Ovia 13, Dimitrijie Nikolic 8, Zach O’Calaghan 8, Biko Johnson 4, Caio Monteiro 3, Enzo Clouvel -Urie 2, Maurice Walker 2, Sergio Burchell 2, Rodney Sawyer 2.

WNCC women pick up 10th win of the season

          The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team put four players in double figures in holding Central Wyoming College to just five second-quarter points in posting the 70-51 win in the final day of the WNCC Classic at Cougar Palace Saturday.

            Shiho Isono and Mackenzie Joseph each scored 13 points to lead the Cougars. Joseph also had eight rebounds. Mia Jaye Sarkodee-Adoo and Jayla Owen each had 10 points.

            The other women’s game in the WNCC Classic saw the Northwest Trappers outscore Northeastern Junior College 10-6 in the fourth quarter after trailing 50-49 with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for the 59-56 win.

            As for the Cougar women, they didn’t need any last-second heroics, but they got first-quarter heroics in their win.

WNCC interim head coach Isaac Lu said they played well except for the slow start.

“I thought overall we played a solid game,” Lu said. “There were stretches that we played really well and then stretches that we didn't. When we play really well, we are really, really good. We have to find a way for our team to put 40 good minutes together.”

The stretch that Lu was talking about was the start of the contest where Central Wyoming was out-playing the Cougars for much of the first quarter. WNCC led 7-2 before Central Wyoming went on a 10-2 run to lead 12-9 and led 20-14.

That was when WNCC picked it up as Ola Duda hit a bucket and then Yara Garcia got a steal and lay-in. Joseph then popped in a 3-pointer that beat the buzzer to give the Cougars a 21-20 lead after one quarter.

WNCC carried the momentum from the final two minutes of the first quarter the rest of the game as the Cougars played strong defensively in the second quarter, holding Central Wyoming to just five points.

Lu said this team hits big shots and can play defense and that is the mark of a good team.

“All season long, we had multiple players step up and have not only big moments, but had big individual games that helped us win matchups. Tonight was no exception. We had a bunch of players step in and contribute. That is something for the strength of our team that we have a very balanced scoring. Everyone is a threat to go and make a play for our team at any given time.”

While the team hit big shots, the defense also played well as they generated a 10-second back-court violation and had some shot clock violations as well. Lu was pleased with how his defense played.

“We had a stretch in that fourth quarter where we created multiple turnovers in a row that led to easy baskets for our team,” Lu said. “It is about doing that consistently through the span of 40 minutes of a game. If we can do that, we will be hard to beat.”

WNCC continued the 7-0 run that ended the first quarter by outscoring Central 18-5 in the second 10 minutes. WNCC led 28-20 after a bucket by Joseph off an assist from Bre Fowler. WNCC led 34-24 on back-to-back buckets by Faith Walker and capped off the second quarter on a 5-0 run as Fowler got the ball with seconds remaining and drove the length of the floor and hit a lay-in just before the halftime buzzer for the 39-25 lead.

The third quarter saw the Cougars jump to a 45-28 lead after a Fowler trey. Central Wyoming came back to cut the lead to single digits at 47-36 on back-to-back treys before Isoni had a bucket to give the Cougars the 49-36 lead after three.

The fourth quarter saw the Cougars go on a 15-3 run to lead 64-39 behind 3-pointers from Fowler and Owen for a 64-39 lead and never looked back.

The Cougars won the battle in the paint, outsourcing Central Wyoming 44-16. The Cougars also out-boarded the Rustlers 49-36 and had 19 assists, led by Owen with six.

            The Cougars will wrap up the first semester schedule with a game at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on Tuesday.


C. Wyo.           20 5 11 15 – 51

WNCC (9-4)    21 18 10 21 – 70

Ivana Bijic 11, Kamya Jones 9, Chevelle Boyd 7, Haydn Collie 7, Taylor Elam 6, Kalista Niu 4, Criselle Mendosa 3, Melanie Garcia 2, Alexis Varela 2.
Shiho Isono 13, Bre Fowler 10, Mackenzie Joseph 13, Jayla Owen 10, Faith Walker 8, Ola Duda 7, Yara Garcia 5, Mia Jaye Sarkodee-Adoo 4.