TRINIDAD, Colo. – The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team wrapped up the regular season by putting four in double figures with a 77-60 win over Trinidad State College Saturday afternoon at Trinidad, Colorado.

                WNCC wraps up the regular season at 26-4 and will get ready to host a first-round playoff game this Friday at 6 p.m. at Cougar Palace against Trinidad State. The Cougars finished third in the South Sub-region with a 7-3 conference mark while Trinidad went 0-10 in the conference. The winners of the first round will advance to the Region IX tournament March 14-16 in Casper, Wyoming.

                WNCC started strong in the contest as Ebere Egbirika made the opening bucket and then Mackenzie Joseph nailed a triple for a 5-0 lead. WNCC kept playing strong defense as they led 12-3 on a Faith Walker bucket and held Trinidad without a bucket until 4:33 left in the first quarter. At 12-6. WNCC led 20-12 after the first quarter.

                The second quarter saw WNCC go up 26-14 on a Walker bucket and kept the lead around 10 points and led 31-24 at the break.

                The third quarter saw Trinidad slice the deficit to 33-26 before Joseph buried a 3-pointer and then a Walker bucket made it 38-27. Trinidad came back to cut the deficit to just two points at 42-40 with 2:18 to play in the third. Walker hit a layup for a 44-40 lead which was clutch as Trinidad buried a 3-pointer to make it a 44-43 game. WNCC came back with back-to-back bucket by Kiley Smich and Walker for a 48-43 lead after three periods.

                WNCC started the fourth slow as Trinidad took their first lead of the game at 49-48 with 7:46 to play. WNCC answered with a bucket by Egbirika for a 50-49 lead. Trinidad regained the lead at 55-53 on a 3-pointer, but Walker made a bucket to tie the game at 55-55 with five minutes to play.

                That was when WNCC kicked it into high gear as Egbirka hit a trey followed by five straight points from Laura Montiel for a 63-55 lead. WNCC went back up by double-digits at 66-55 on a Helena Kuck 3-ponter and never looked back to get their 26th win of the season.

                WNCC shot 51 percent from the field and buried nine 3-pointers. Trinidad shot 35 percent from the field and buried 13 treys.

                WNCC out-rebounded Trinidad State 40-17 behind nine boards from Walker and Joseph. WNCC also had 17 steals lead by Amiyah Donaldson with four and Egbirka and Montiel with three each. Montiel and Gal-La Font each had two of the team’s six blocked shots.

                Walker led the Cougars with 19 points followed by 13 from Egbirika, 11 from Donaldson, and 10 from Joseph.

WNCC                 20 11 17 29 – 77

Trinidad               12 12 19 17 – 60

WNCC

Ebere Egbirika 13, Helena Kuck 6, Gal-La Font 3, Mackenzie Joseph 10, Adelina Urtane 2, Amiyah Donaldson 11, Laura Montiel 8, Faith Walker 19, Jamie Caron 3, Kiley Smich 2.

TRINIDAD

Mariah Maes 5, Desiree Bachicha 6, Sonia Evans 11, Gabby O’Hara 11, Neveah Martinez 4, Hailey Apachito 15, Anisa Gallegos 2, Jordan Malone 6.

WNCC baseball takes two from Dawson

                The Western Nebraska Community College baseball team evened their overall record at 8-8 after taking the 4-game series with Dawson Community College on Friday and Saturday at Cleveland Field.

                After defeating Dawson 17-4 and 10-2 on Friday, the Cougars continued playing strong defense and timely hitting on Saturday, topping the Bucs 11-1 and 10-5.

                The Cougars are now 8-8 on the season and have won seven straight contests, which is fourth in the record book. The last time the were even in overall record or even more wins was back in the 2021 season when the Cougars won the Region IX tournament.

                Saturday’s game were a mixed bag. The first game saw WNCC score eight times in the second and won with a run in the fifth for the run-ruled game. The second game was closer as the Cougars trailed 5-4 late in the game before scoring six times in the eighth for the win.

                “The pitchers worked hard to day and were good, and the defense was good and the hitters just went out and competed,” Shintaro Inoue said.

                The second game saw Zane Hendrickx get the win, pitching the final two innings in striking out three and allowing just one hit.

                Offensively, WNCC had eight hits, led by Mathieu Levesque with two hits. WNCC had four extra base hits, including a home run by Inoue, a triple by Calvin Johnson, and doubles by Garrett Dodd and Ryan Platt.

                But it wasn’t easy. WNCC scored one in the first when Platt scored on a passed ball. Dawson tied it with a run of their own in the second. WNCC came back to take a 4-1 lead with a run in the third and two in the fifth.

                The third saw Johnson get a triple and score on a Caleb Caciari single. Platt than got a double, but both runners were left stranded. The fifth saw Caciari earn a walk and Levesque get a single. With two outs, Arturo Montiel reached on an error allowing both runners to score.

                WNCC squandered the lead, allowing Dawson four runs in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead on back-to-back home runs.

                WNCC came back with six in the eighth inning to take the 10-5 lead. It all started when Inoue had a 2-run home run. Tyler Easter followed with a single and scored on Garrett Dodd’s double. Dodd and Harris each scored on a wild pitch and the final run came in on a ground out.

                The first game of the day saw Valentin Blanc go all five innings in allowing just four hits and one run while striking out eight.

                Offensively, the Cougars had three players with two hits in Bryce Peterson, Dylan Harris, and Inoue. Peterson led the way with a double and three RBIs, while Harris had two runs scored. Inoue had a triple with three runs scored.

                That first game saw WNCC score one in the first on a Bryce Peterson run-scoring single. The Cougars put the game away with eight in the second. Kensei Oikawa had a run-scoring double followed by Harris with a run-scoring single. Hunter McCollum scored one to make it 6-0 and Ashton Ross closed out the inning with a 2-run home run.

                WNCC went up 10-1 with a run in the fourth on a Peterson Sacrifice fly, and then ended the run in the fifth on a 2-out, double by Peterson that scored Inoue.

                WNCC will look to continue the winning ways on Wednesday when they travel to Norfolk to take on Northeast Community College in a doubleheader.

                Inoue said they need to continue to work hard to keep going.

                “We need to continue to work hard,” he said. “We need to have good at bats, good pitching, and defense.”

Game 1

Dawson               001 00 – 1 4 1

WNCC                 181 01 – 11 11 0

WP – Valentin Blanc.

2B – Kensei Oikawa, Bryce Peterson.

3B – Alex Ainsworth, Shintaro Inoue.

HR – Ashton Ross.

Game 2

Dawson               010 000 400 – 5 7 3

WNCC                 101 020 06x – 10 8 2

WP – Zane Hendrickx.

2B – Garrett Dodd, Ryan Platt.

3B – Calvin Johnson.

HR – Shintaro Inoue.

WNCC softball splits contests with Dawson on Saturday

                The Western Nebraska Community College softball team split a doubleheader with Dawson Community College on Saturday at Volunteer Field in Scottsbluff.

                The first game saw the Cougars play well early as they had a 6-4 lead. It was an 8-run, fifth inning that pushed Dawson to the win 17-6.

                The second game was a scoreless contest until the Cougars scored seven in the fourth to go on to the 10-2 run-ruled win in five innings.

                Madi VanRiper, who had two home runs on the day including a grand slam, said they had a rough patch in the opening game and then rebounded in the second game.

                “We came out of the gate a lot more hot. We had a talk that we needed to make changes and those changes were made,” the sophomore transfer said. “We played with a lot of heart and a lot of energy (in the second game).”

                The second game was where the Cougars got the big lead and didn’t let Dawson back in the game, which was something they didn’t do in game one on Saturday. VanRiper said that is the way need to play all the time.

                “We definitely needed to play at full speed instead of not playing at our full potential,” she said. “

                The fourth inning was the key when they entire lineup got big hits and did the little things to race to the 7-0 lead, including two home runs, first from Jenika Fuentes with a 2-run shot and then VanRiper with a monster grand slam.

                “That grand slam felt amazing and knowing that I had my team behind my back the whole way was a great feeling,” she said.

                But, VanRiper said the win was definitely a team win and that was shown in the win on Saturday.

                “Everyone has a role on this team,” she said. “It is not only the big hits, but the little hits go a long way, too. It is the bunts get us over and then we have another person to get a hit to get us in. All hits matter with us.”

                Game two was a defensive show for the first three innings as both pitchers were controlling the game. WNCC’s Jenika Fuentes had a strong outing in allowing just two runs on five hits and let her defense take care of business behind her.

                Offensively, it was the Cougars’ fourth inning that was the highlight, and it was a team effort from everyone in the lineup.

                The fourth started with a single by Sierra Hilgner. Fuentes then blasted a 2-run home run for the 2-0 lead. After that Bailey Legere singled, Randi Mitchell got on by an error, and Bailee Krueger walked to load the bases. With one out, VanRiper took a full-count pitch and sky-rocketed over the centerfield fence for the grand slam and the 6-0 lead. WNCC added another run when Katelyn Czerpakd reached on an error and scored on a Hilgner double.

                Dawson scored two in the fifth and the Cougar defense left the bases loaded as they minimized the damage. The Cougars built off that defensive stand and put the game away via the 8-run rule in the fifth.

                It all started with Legere getting a single followed by a Mitchell walk. Legere scored on a Krueger single and Mitchell scores on a VanRiper triple. That set up the game-ending play when Devyn Priselac had a grounder back to the pitcher and reached first on an error which saw VanRiper score the game-ending run.

                WNCC finished the game with eight hits. VanRiper, Hilgner, and Legere led the way with two hits each. VanRiper had a triple, home runs, two runs scored, and five RBIs in the contest, while Legere had two runs scored with two singles. Hilgner had a double.

                Game one saw Dawson score two in the first but WNCC came back to get four in the third for a 4-2 lead. The third saw Legere with the big hit, a 2-run home run for the lead.

                Dawson tied the game with two in the fourth, but WNCC answered with two in the bottom of the frame. Van Riper started things with a solo home run and then Hilgner doubled in Czerpak to make it 6-4.

                Dawson responded with eight in the fifth and five in the sixth for the 17-6 win.

                WNCC was led by Legere with a home run and two RBIs, while Czerpak had two runs scored.

                WNCC will be back in action this weekend when they travel to face Lamar Community College on Saturday and Sunday before continuing onto a Spring Break road trip to Oklahoma and Texas. WNCC be back at home March 16-17 when they host Trinidad State College.

Game 1

Dawson               200 285 – 17 19 5

WNCC                 004 200 – 6 5 5

LP – Bella Pacheco.

2B – Sierra Hilgner, Randi Mitchell.

HR – Bailey Legere, Madi VanRiper.

Game 2

Dawson               000 02 – 2 5 3

WNCC                 000 73 – 10 8 0

WP – Jenika Fuentes.

2B – Sierra Hilgner.

3B – Madi VanRiper.

HR – Madi VanRiper.