The Western Nebraska Community College basketball teams will wrap up the regular season Saturday afternoon at home when they entertain Northeastern Junior College at Cougar Palace.

                The Cougar women, who are 20-8 on the season, will face NJC, who has won their last two games beginning at 2 p.m. The Cougar men will then hit the hardwoods against an NJC team that is still battling for a second seed at 4 p.m. A win by WNCC on Saturday, will wrap up the second seed from the South Sub-region.

                Saturday’s contest will also be special as it will be sophomore recognition night as the women and men will recognize six sophomores on each team before the game. The six women’s players that will be recognized include Shino Isono, Yara Garcia, Mia Jaye Sarkodee-Adoo, Bre Fowler, Imani Harris, and Rashaan Harris.

                The six men’s basketball players that will be recognized include CJ Johnson, Dimitrije Nikolic, Biko Johnson, Enzo Clouvel-Urie, Carl Thorpe, and Zach O’Callaghan.

                While Saturday’s games are the last regular season games, it won’t be the last home contests.

                The Cougar women, who won the South Sub-region after their 73-54 win over McCook Community College last Saturday, will host the Region IX tournament that will begin Thursday, March 9 and run through March 11 with the championship game. The winner of the regional tournament earns an automatic berth to the NJCAA national tournament that runs March 22-27 in Lubbock, Texas.

                The NJC Plainswomen are still in a hunt for a first-round home playoff game so NJC has a lot to play for. The top two teams in the south sub-region earn a first-round bye into the regional tournament and won’t have to play next weekend. The third and fourth place teams will host the other two teams in a first round game.

                Otero is currently second in the region at 7-2 followed by McCook at 5-3, NJC and Trinidad State at 4-5, and Lamar at 0-10.

                WNCC is looking for a regional title, something that has eluded the Cougars for the last three seasons. The last time WNCC won regionals was in 2020. That was the year the Cougars won, earned a first-round bye at nationals, but couldn’t go to the national tournament as the tournaments were halted because of the COVID pandemic.

                The WNCC women, however, have been to the last six national tournaments. The Cougars finished in the Final Four a year ago, having won three straight games before falling to Tyler Junior College, who went on to win the national tourney.

                The final days of the men’s regular season is also hectic. The North sub-region winner will hot the regional tournament and right now that is Casper College, who is 7-1 in conference play with Northwest College in second at 6-1. Casper and Northwest split their conference games with Northwest winning at Casper 98-55 and Casper winning at Powell 93-83 in overtime.

                Casper has Western Wyoming on Saturday at home and travels to Eastern Wyoming College on Monday. Northwest has road contests at Central Wyoming on Friday and Laramie County on Monday, while facing Western Wyoming at home.

                The men’s seedings for the south for the regional tournament is a free-for-all with teams battling for the second-through seventh seed. North Platte can’t move up or down with their 2-7 record, but the Knights last played Tuesday when they defeated WNCC 97-79.

                Trinidad State has the number one seed from the South locked up at 10-0 with two games to play. That leaves the other five teams battling for a chance to host. WNCC is in the driver’s seed for the second see at 6-5 in conference play. A Cougar win on Saturday would have them host the first-round game next week either Friday or Saturday against North Platte.

                But, this is where it gets interesting. If Northeastern wins twice, the Plainsmen would get the second seed since they beat WNCC twice during the regular season. NJC is 4-6 in conference play so far with games with WNCC on Saturday and then North Platte on Tuesday.

                McCook is third in the conference at 5-5 followed by Lamar at 5-7, and Otero at 4-6. First round pairings will not be known until after Tuesday night’s games.

                For updated post-season tournament game dates, times, and locations, stay tuned to the WNCC athletic website at