Dru Kuxhausen and Martin Roub combined for 53 points to help lead the Western Nebraska Community College men's basketball team to a 104-83 win over Rainy River Community College in the final game of the Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday at Cougar Palace in Scottsbluff.
The win was the Cougars fifth straight and moves the Cougars to 8-2 on the season.
Kuxhausen ignited for a game-high 27 points. He sank four 3-pointers and finished 7 of 8 at the free-throw line.
Roub followed right behind with 26 points. He knocked down a trio of treys and finished 9 of 14 from the field overall.
Assistant Coach Billy Engel said the team played well against a Rainy River team that has talent.
"We came out slow. A lot of guys got a lot of minutes against Indian Hills and they were a very good team. Martin Roub had 45 minutes and Jervay Green almost played 40 minutes. We came out a little sluggish to start," Engel said. "But Rainy River really competed and played extremely hard. It just took us a while to get going, but eventually we started making the right plays and guys stepped up and did what they are capable of and we ended up winning by 21.
Plus, it was a special weekend for Engel himself. Billy Engel got to coach against his father, Bill Engle, who was the head coach of Rainy River. The younger Engel even dug out a sweater vest to wear since his dad always wears vests.
"It was fun to coach against him. My dad has been wearing a sweater vest every single game for 20 years so I had to pull out my sweater vest today," Billy Engel said. "I was calling plays. He was calling plays. It was a fun dynamic, fun environment in a fun Thanksgiving classic. It was a fun game and nice to have him here and nice to see his team do well."
It was a battle, too, between the two squads. It wasn't until late that WNCC pushed the score to over double digits.
"They are a Division III junior college, so on paper they shouldn't be as good as us, but they are a team not to take lightly," Billy Engel said. "If they keep up with the way they are playing now, they will be a force in their conference and if they keep it up they can make the national tournament and make some noise in Minnesota."
WNCC, which survived Indian Hills Community College in overtime on Friday night, raced out to a 51-38 lead on Rainy River at halftime. The Cougars continued to blister the nets in the second half by totaling 53 points.
WNCC finished the contest shooting 54.7 percent from the floor. The Cougars also made their way to the foul line plenty of times. They converted 25 of their 36 opportunities.
Four other Cougars finished in the double-figure scoring column. University of Nebraska recruit Jervay Green finished with 16 points, Bryce Sanchious had 15, while Elie Cadet and Henry Tanksley both ended with 10.
Green had a double-double as he led WNCC with 12 assists. Sanchious added eight helpers.
The Cougars enjoyed a dominating advantage on the glass. WNCC pulled down 54 rebounds compared to Rainy River's 36. Roub led WNCC on the glass with 13 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Kuxhausen tracked down eight boards and Sanchious had seven.
Tanksley led the Cougars defensively with three steals. Green added a pair.
Three Rainy River players scored in double figures. Jesus Alfonso led the way with 18 points. Rainy River shot 43 3-pointers in the contest and connected on 17 of them.
WNCC, now 8-2 on the season, will return to action on Friday against Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington.
Rainy River 38 45 – 83
WNCC (8-2) 51 53 -- 104
Greg Barber 4, Brandon Alcide 13, Jesus Alfonso 18, Trey Jones 6, Franklin Doyle 3, Cleveland Bedgood 6, Braxton Benvenuti 9, Josh Jacobs 14, Cedrick Harris 8.