The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team scored just 21 second-half points as the Western Wyoming Community College Mustangs scored 30 in registering a 68-54 win in the quarterfinals at Cougar Palace in the Region IX Women’s Basketball Tournament Thursday.

                Western Wyoming will now face the lone South Sub-region team left in the tournament Trinidad State College in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Friday. Trinidad State had 29 points from Yle Exposito-Perez as they hit the century mark with a 102-75 win over Northwest College.

                The other semifinal Friday at 5 p.m. will pit Laramie County Community College and Casper College. LCCC received 24 points from Monique Marcetic-Vaotangi as the Golden Eagles captured the 77-56 win over Otero College. Casper had a pair of players score over 20 points and had five in double figures as they registered the 93-76 win.

                The winners of Friday’s semifinals will battle Saturday at 4 p.m. for the Region IX championship.

                For the Cougar women, it was a game where they lost the lead with 6:40 to play in the second quarter and never could mount a run of more than four points to retake the lead.

                WNCC head coach Isaac Lu said this was a tough one to take.

                “Offensively it wasn’t our night,” Lu said. “Definitely a little bit of nerves before the game. I thought we played really, really hard. We fought toward the end and I am super proud of them for their effort here tonight. Western Wyoming is a great team. They are well-coached and they have good players. They play together. We were a little bit out of sync tonight. We couldn’t get things to go our way.”

                WNCC was playing well in the first half as they had a 17-10 lead after a Jayla Owen trey and two Bre Fowler free throws. After that, the Mustangs went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 19-19 after one quarter.

                The second quarter saw WNCC lead 24-22, but a 3-pointer by Kayla Thornton put Western Wyoming up 25-24 with 6:40 to play and the Mustangs went up 29-24. WNCC came back to slice the deficit to 29-28 on a Rashaan Smith bucket and a 3-pointer by Fowler, but Western Wyoming led at halftime 38-33.

                The third quarter saw WNCC get to withing 42-41 on two Owen free throws, but still trailed 49-45 after three.

                The first half of the final quarter was low scoring as Western Wyoming led 53-45 on a bucket by Kayde Strauss only to watch WNCC cut the deficit to 53-49 on a Smith bucket. WNCC trailed 55-51, but the Mustangs had back-to-back treys by Hannah Harris and Strauss to lead 61-51 with 3:01 to play. WNCC never got any closer as they had to start fouling and Western Wyoming hit free throws down the stretch for the 68-54 win.

                “We lost the possession battle,” Lu said. “They took more shots than us. They took more free throws than us. When we give up 12 offensive rebounds in the second half, it is hard to get out in transition and it is hard to win basketball games.”

                WNCC was led by Mackenzie Joseph with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. She also buried three 3-pointers on the night. Ola Duda and Owen each had 11 points while Fowler had 10.

                Western Wyoming was led by Kayla Thornton with 17 followed by Ashelynn Birch with 15.

                The Cougars end their season at 21-9 and will look to rebuild for next year.

                In the earlier games, LCCC and Otero were in battle in the first half as neither team had more than a four-point lead. The two squads were knotted at 18 after one quarter and then LCCC had a slim 33-32 lead at halftime.

                The second half, or third quarter, is when LCCC took control as they outscored Otero 26-14. Otero cut the LCCC lead to 39-38 and then the Golden Eagles went on a 12-0 run to lead 51-38 and later led 59-42 on a 3-pointer by Halle Hester. LCC led 59-46 after three.

                The fourth quarter saw LCCC outscore Otero 18-10 and led 70-50 on a bucket by Torrington’s Mattie Jones.

                LCCC had four in double figures, led by Marcetic-Vaotangi with 24 points and a perfect 8-for 8 from the charity stripe. Hester had 16 with four treys, while Jamy de Kock had 15 and Lylah Spring 13.

                Otero had two in double figures, led by Savannah Lang with 16 and Hedda Kohne with 12.

                The Casper and NJC game was close for the first half as well. NJC ran out to an 8-4 lead and led 11-10 before Casper went on a 9-0 run to lead 19-11 on seven points from Joslin Igo.  Casper led 21-15 after one.

                The second quarter stayed close as the two teams’ number five each opened the quarter with two buckets. NJC’s number five Seneya Martinez had two to start the quarter followed by two buckets by Casper’s Logann Alver. Casper held a slim 44-40 lead at halftime.

                The second half saw Casper open the third with a 6-0 run and pushed the lead to double digits at 60-47. Casper led after three periods 65-55.

                The fourth quarter saw NJC start hot as they cut the Casper lead down to 69-65. Casper quickly re-energized with a 24-11 run to end the game.

                Flora Goed led Casper with 22 points followed by Alver with 21 points. Igo tallied 16 while Palomo had 15 and Frau-Garcia had 14.

                NJC had four in double digits led by Martinez with 20 points followed by Bailee Hart with 16, Genesis Sweetwine with 11, and Dalys McGuinnis with 10.

The third game on the day saw Trinidad and Northwest shoot over 50 percent for the game. The Trojans were red hot shooting, shooting 54 percent in the first half and 67 percent in the second half. The Trojans connected on 12 3-pointers, including five from Tiersah Penn. Penn finished with 19 points but Yle Exposito-Perez led the Trojans with 29 points.

Northwest led early in the game at 8-3 before Trinidad came back to grab a 20-15 lead and led 20-17 after one quarter.

Northwest made the opening bucket of the second quarter, but the Trojans went on a 14-2 run to lead 34-21. Trinidad later led 41-28, before Northwest heated up from behind the arc with four 3-pointers to close to within 47-42 at halftime.

The third quarter is where Trinidad widened the gap, outscoring Northwest 29-13, including a 12-0 run that put the Trojans up 72-51. Trinidad led 76-55 after three.

Northwest mounted a comeback of some sort as they trailed 88-73, but Trinidad closed out the game on a 14-4 run and hit the century mark on a bucket by Mya Williams with 57 seconds to play.

Game 4

W. Wyoming      19 19 11 19 – 68

WNCC                   19 14 12 9 – 54

Kayde Strauss 12, Emma Patik 9, Hannah Harris 12, Ashelynn Birch 15, Kayla Thornton 17, Tamyrn Blom 3.


Shiho Isono 2, Jayla Owen 11, Bre Fowler 10, Mackenzie Joseph 16, Ola Duda 11, Rashaan Smith 4.

Game 3

Northwest          17 25 13 20 – 75

Trinidad                20 27 29 26 – 102

Tyne Killip 3, Roxanne Rogers 14, Yaiza Vacas-Lopez 2, Jimena Montoro-Cabezas 7, Natalyah Nead 5, Hayeli Acosta 13, Kamber Good Luck 23, Darla Hernandez 4, Batoul Khaleefah 4.

Mya Williams 18, Yle Exposito-Perez 29, Margarita Salas 12, Tiersah Penn 19, Keisy Alvarez 8, Sierra Garcia-Reisch 6, Cristina Luquin 10.

Game 2

NJC                        15 25 15 21 – 76

Casper                  21 23 21 28 – 93

Seneya Martinez 20, Dalys McGuinnis 10, Kelsey Koza 5, Jailyn Potts 5, Genesis Sweetwine 11, Amya Winfrey 5, Bailee Hart 16, Kenzie Kraich 2, Alex Westerdijk 2.

Logann Alver 21, Flora Goed 22, Mariona Cos-Morales 5, Sandra Frau-Garcia 14, Julia Palomo 15, Joslin Igo 16.

Game 1

Otero    18 14 14 10 – 56

LCCC      21 12 26 18 – 77


Anna Cera 2, Paige Johnson 1, Jayden Jenkins 2, Savannah Lang 16, Katia Nekic 8, Gia Bradley 4, Carmella Jefferson 6, Jaycie Casebolt 1, Hedda Kohne 12, Jennifer Jaramillo 4.

Lylah Spring 13, Jamy de Kock 15, Shannon Niles 4, Mikola Kuzmanovic 2, Halle Hester 16, Mattie Jones 2, Monique Marcetic-Vaotangi 24, Andraya Dimas 1.

WNCC men fall to LCCC at regionals

                CASPER, Wyo. – The Western Nebraska Community College men’s basketball team had a slow start while Laramie Community College started hot as the Golden Eagles advanced to the semifinals of the men’s Region IX Tournament in Casper, Wyoming, with an 88-63 win.

                The Cougars end their season at 16-15 while LCCC will move on to play Casper College at 7 p.m. Friday. The other semifinal in the men’s tourney will pit Northwest against Trinidad State at 5 p.m. Northwest won over Lamar Community College while Trinidad State handled Western Wyoming 80-57.

                The key to the game was the start or the first three minutes of the game where LCCC went 4-for-4 from the 3-point arc to lead 14-14. LCCC later led 29-11 and went on to lead 51-20 at halftime.

                WNCC played much better in the second half as they outscored LCCC 43-37. The second half was a much more physical game. Both Laramie County and Western Nebraska pushed the ball into the paint which led to 41 free throws between the two teams in the final 20 minutes.

LCCC was able to go 61 percent from the charity stripe making 19-of-31 and was able to hold their composure during a few scraps which ended with four technical fouls, including three on WNCC, all of which came in the second half.

The Cougars battled hard in the second half as they got back into the game by slicing the deficit to 14 with about eight minutes to play. LCCC rebuilt the lead back to 20 points and got the 88-63 win.

Biko Johnson was the only Cougar in double figures with 23 points, including going 11-of-14 from the free throw line. Maurice Walker was next in line with eight points followed by Daniel Bula with eight.

WNCC shot just 33 percent from the floor and 23 percent from beyond the arc (5-of-22). LCCC was 53 from the field and 7-of-24 from the arc.

The two teams combined for 60 fouls. LCCC was 19-of-31 from the stripe and WNCC was 22-of-29.

LCCC      51 37 – 88

WNCC   20 43 – 63


CJ Johnson 6, Biko Johnson 23, Carl Thorpe 5, Enzo Clouvel-Urie 2, Zach O’Callaghan 4, Dimitrije Nkolic 4, Stephen Ovia 4, Daniel Bula 7, Maurice Walker 9.