SHERIDAN, Wyo. - A furious rally by the Western Nebraska Community College men's basketball team came up just short in a 104-97 setback to Casper College during the semifinals of the Region IX Tournament on Friday night in Sheridan, Wyoming.
Casper moves into the championship and will face Sheridan College Saturday night with the winner advancing to the national tournament. Sheridan picked up a 102-97 win over North Platte Community College
The Cougars trailed by 20 at one point in the second half, but managed to close within as few as just three in the final couple minutes. However, Casper hit just enough shots to hold off WNCC in the end.
The loss eliminated WNCC from the tournament. With a 24-8 record, the Cougars will need an at-large bid into the national tournament to extend their season. The pairings and at-large teams will be announced Monday.
Casper's Isaac Bonton led all scorers in Friday's contest with 41 points. Two Thunderbirds finished with double-doubles. Wilfried Likayi had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Zion Tordoff finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
WNCC was led offensively by Jervay Green with 38 points. Green, a University of Nebraska signee, finished the game shooting 13 of 25 from the field overall. He sank seven 3-pointers. He also led the Cougars with six assists.
Elie Cadet followed Green in the scoring column with 18 points.
Dru Kuxhausen finished with 17 points. The sharpshooter from Scottsbluff hit three treys and led WNCC defensively with three steals.
Also scoring in double figures for the Cougars was Martin Roub with 13 points.
WNCC shot 45 percent from the field overall, but connected on just 15 of 30 free throws.
Roub led the Cougars on the glass with eight rebounds. Cadet followed with six boards, while Kuxhausen and Bryce Sanchious grabbed five each.
Casper finished shooting 52 percent overall and was 17 of 25 at the foul line. The Thunderbirds held a 48-33 rebounding advantage.
Casper led 49-40 at halftime, but WNCC managed to outscore the Thunderbirds 57-55 in the second half.
WNCC (24-8) 40 57 - 97
Casper 49 55 - 104
Wilfried Likayi 19, Amin Adamu 15, Isaac Bonton 41, Broc Finstuen 13, James Hampshire 2, Zion Tordoff 14.