The Western Nebraska Community College men's and women's basketball teams will usher in the home portion of 2019 with games this weekend as both teams try to bounce back from setbacks on Monday.
The Cougar men, ranked 23rd in the nation, will host Otero Junior College on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Region IX South sub-region opener for both squads.
While the men have just one game this weekend, the women will have a pair of contests. The Cougar women will host Northeast Community College on Friday at 5:30 p.m. before entertaining Otero Junior College on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the South Sub-region conference opener for both teams.
The WNCC and Otero men's contest should be an interesting contest after the Cougars defeated the Rattlers last year for the Region IX title. WNCC is ranked 23rd in the nation and enter with a 12-5 record. WNCC has lost its last three contests, including Monday at Laramie County Community College 93-90.
Otero enters with a 12-2 record and an 11-game winning streak. The Rattlers opened the 2019 portion or their schedule on Monday, throttling the Northwest Kansas Tech junior varsity 129-52. Otero has scored 100 or more points in four of their last five contests. All four 100-point games came against junior varsity squads.
WNCC is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, averaging 94 points a game. WNCC has scored 100 or more points in four of their last eight games. WNCC defeated Rainy River Community College 104-83, Sheridan College 101-88, Williston State 111-93, and Laramie County 101-76.
After this weekend, the Cougar men will be on the road next weekend when they travel to Northeastern Junior College on Friday and Lamar Community College on Saturday.
The women's contests this weekend will should be good as well. WNCC, 12-3 on the season after falling to Casper College 83-63 on Monday and stopping an 11-game winning streak, take on Northeast Community College out of Norfolk on Friday. Northeast is 8-6 on the season and have won their last two games, including a 71-44 win over Midland College junior varsity 71-44 on Tuesday.
The Hawks have a pair of 6-foot-3 players on the team in freshman Katie Richards of Surrey, England, and Emma Hadzihusejnovic of Bosnia. Richards is averaging 3.2 points a game and Hadzihusajnovic is averaging 5.2 points.
Saturday's afternoon contest with Otero will be the first South sub-region contest for both squads. The sub-region games are important this year because the winner of the South will host the Region IX tournament.
Otero comes into the contest with an 8-5 record and it will be their first game back since Dec. 14 when they defeated Laramie County 65-47. Otero has four players 6-foot or taller, including 6-3 freshman Alessia Capley of Arvada, Colorado, who is averaging six points a game. Otero is led by Grace O'Neil, who is averaging 16.1 points a game. Two other Rattlers are averaging 10 points.
After this weekend, the Cougar women will be on the road next weekend against NJC and Lamar before returning home January 22 for a contest against McCook.