The Western Nebraska Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams are ready to kick off the second semester with plenty of games over the next five days.
The Cougar women will get the second semester kicked off when they host Northwest Kansas Technical College junior varsity at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Cougar women, 12-2 on the season, will have four games in five days to open the semester.
“We are excited to get back on the court,” women’s coach Chad Gibney said. “That long break there is always a little too long there in my mind. I know we are anxious to get there and we are excited to have three games in three days.”
After Thursday, both the men and women get into full action. The two teams will host Region IX South sub-region contests on Friday and Saturday. Friday Laramie County Community College comes to Cougar Palace in action that begins at 5:30 p.m. followed by a showdown with Trinidad State Junior College on Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.
The two teams will then wrap up the wicked early January schedule when they travel to Casper College on Monday to face the Thunderbirds.
Gibney said they are ready for the four games in five days stretch.
“We have four games in five days and we are going to be tested,” he said. “We talk about it where you have to win three games in three days to win a regional tournament. So, we will take these three as an opportunity that we can show we can do that.”
With the task of four games in five days at hand, Gibney said his Cougar women’s team should be ready after being off for three weeks.
“We have come back with focus and came back energized,” he said. “Practices have been very, very good the last three days now. I have been impressed. They have come back in better shape than I anticipated and I have been pleased with the intensity. I have been pleased with the effort and focus they have come back with.”
Both Cougar teams finished the first semester strong. The Cougar women, who are ranked 24th in the latest NJCAA poll, have won five straight. The Cougar men, also 12-2, are ranked 20th in the NJCAA poll and have won 10 straight.
The Cougar men are sitting atop the Region IX South standings with a 2-0 mark while four teams are right behind at 2-1 – Lamar, Otero, Trinidad, and Laramie County.
The Cougar women are currently in a 3-way tie for the South lead at 2-0 along with Laramie County and Lamar. LCCC enters Friday’s contest at 10-7 and losers of their last two games. Lamar is 9-6 on the season and winners of five straight.
Trinidad State, the Cougars’ Saturday opponent, has a 7-6 record and 1-1 in conference play.
“We try to take it one game at a time,” Gibney said. “Our goal is to win the Region IX South and put us in the best position for the conference tournament. The goal every year is to make a run at winning the region and I think we have the pieces to do so.”
Gibney realizes that this weekend is a good test for his squad against three top-notch ball clubs.
“We open up with Northwest Kansas Tech and they will be tough and athletic. It will be a good test for us before getting back into our conference games,” he said. “We then open our conference schedule with Laramie County. They are tied first in the league at 2-0 and they are much improved and a well-coached basketball team that will definitely give us some challenges. Then we have Trinidad State who will be tough. They are very good defensively and gets out and pressures teams. We are excited for three games this weekend to try to get things going on the right path in 2018.”