The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team started slow but heated up as they had a team-effort 77-43 win over Lamar Community College in the last regular season home game.

                The win moved the Cougars to 23-6 on the year and it was their third straight. WNCC is 6-3 in the South Sub-region with one regular season game left which will be Saturday at Trinidad State. WNCC will then host a first-round Region IX game next week. Day, time, and opponent will be announced early next week.

                Tuesday’s win was one where the Cougars might have started slow on offense, but the defense played well all night, holding Lamar to just 31 percent shooting on the night. The win was also sophomore recognition night as the six academic sophomores were honored after the game. The six sophomores included Amiyah Donaldson, Keyla Cervantes, Gal-La Font, Faith Walker, Jamie Caron, and Mackenzie Joseph.

                Joseph and Cervantes both agreed the night was special.

                “Two years went by really, really quick, so I think it will be a little bittersweet when we play our last game next weekend (in the first round of the playoffs), Joseph said. “We just have to keep working hard in practice keep playing hard to our abilities and playing together. That is something that we need to focus on as well.)

                While Joseph played two seasons at WNCC, Cervantes transferred in after redshirting at Yavapai College. Cervantes said coming here was the right decision and not only will she miss her teammates, but her host family Sierra and Adam Ostdiek and their two girls.

                “This day was very special because I thought we all became a family and seeing each other walk up on the court and playing every second was a lot,” Cervantes said. “It will be really hard to leave (my dorm kids). We are really close and I will really miss them. But, even after basketball, I am still going to talk to them. We developed that family environment.”

                For Cervantes, the move to transfer to WNCC was one of the best moves she has made. Cervantes, who is from Arizona, came to Scottsbluff after spending a year at Yavapai College and after just one year here, she has a big decision to make about her future plans.

                “It is way better here. I am so happy I made the move. The overall atmosphere I am happier playing here and it was the best decision I made,” she said. “But it is hard (on sophomore night) because we are all best friends on the court and it is hard to decide if we want to leave or stay and that will be the hard part. But we will all decide soon.”

                Cervantes and two other sophomores – Font and Caron – do have the biggest decision and that is to move on to another college for academics or spend another year at WNCC. Whatever the case, Tuesday’s win was one where Cervantes said they played well as a team and showed the potential of this team.

                “I felt we all played really good and we all played as a team, and we just wanted each to score and play defense,” Cervantes said. “We just wanted to play for one and another the whole game.”

                Cervantes said the way they played in the second half when they outscored Lamar 48-23 is the way they need to play to win a regional title in March.

                “I think it (second half) was really big because in the first half we had the game-day jitters because we were so happy for each other for sophomore night,” Cervantes, from Tolleson, Arizona, said. “Once we played and got together during halftime, we talked to each other and that helped us a lot with confidence on the court.”

                Joseph, who needs five more 3-pointers to get 100 career treys, said the team started slow, but picked it up in the second quarter and then kept it going in the second half.

                “I definitely feel like we got it together in the second quarter,” Joseph said. “Our shots started falling and it was that we weren’t confident in ourselves and then we started getting confidence in the second quarter where we scored eight in the first quarter and 21 in the second quarter.”

                But, while they struggled offensively, the defense was on fire, where they forced 10 Lamar turnovers and had 10 steals. They also controlled the boards 40-31 with 30 defensive rebounds.

                “I feel like our defense as gotten so much better towards the end of the year then the beginning of the year,” Joseph said.

                The game itself was interesting. The first quarter was one where neither team got shots to fall. Adelina Urtane finally got the first bucket with 5:11 left in the quarter. WNCC held a slim 8-6 lead after the first 10 minutes.

                The second quarter stayed close for the first six minutes and Lamar had a 15-14 lead after a 3-pointer by Natalia Silva. WNCC came back and took a 22-17 lead on an Amiyah Donaldson trey and then a Laura Montiel bucket. It was only 22-20 with about 2 ½ minutes to play when WNCC went on a 7-0 run that saw Donaldson hit another bucket and the Cougars sink key free throws to lead 29-20 at halftime.

                The Cougars came out of the locker room on fire as Joseph scored the first eight points on two 3-pointers for a 37-20 lead. WNCC kept playing well as they opened a 22-point lead at 47-25 on a Walker bucket. WNCC led 56-53 after three quarters on back-to-back 3-pointers by Joseph and Helena Kuck.

                The fourth quarter was all WNCC as they led 65-36 and then played strong defense to close out the game as they scored 12 straight for the 77-43 win.

                WNCC had three in double figures led by Joseph with 17 points followed by Font with 10 and Kuck with 10. Three players all finished with eight points with Donaldson, Walker, and Urtane.

               

Lamar                  6 14 9 14 – 43

WNCC                 8 21 25 23 – 77

LAMAR

Darlling Harris 7, Yuna Soma 5, Abbey Smith 5, Natalia Silva 5, Leah Delgarito 4, Donna Green 5, Alexi Hoy 2, Michelle Hermosillo 3, Addy Offutt 4, Cipriana Garcia 3.

WNCC

Amiyah Donaldson 8, Ebere Egbirika 3, Keyla Cervantes 3, Helena Kuck 10, Gal-La Font 12, Laura Montiel 5, Faith Walker 8, Jamie Caron 0, Kiley Smich 3, Mackenzie Joseph 17, Adelina Urtane 8.