The Nebraska All-stars put a scare into the No. 17 Western Nebraska Community College women's basketball team after one quarter, but in the end, the Cougar women raced to a 106-51 win Saturday evening in the team's season opener.
The Nebraska All-stars, made up of several former Cougars, raced to an 8-0 lead and led 28-21 after one quarter. After that, the Cougar women decided to play and outscored the all-stars 85-23 over the next three quarters.
Yuliyana Valcheva, who led the Cougars with 24 points, said the team started slow before realizing they had to pick up their game.
"We started the game not really sure in ourselves, but then we picked up the energy in the second quarter and the communication," the sophomore said. "Things just worked out."
The first quarter was not a typical WNCC start and the all-stars had all the confidence in the world.
"I think the first quarter was a little bit of pressure because it was the first official game," Valcheva said. "After that we figured out how to get ourselves better. It just worked."
The Cougars shot 48 percent from the field and buried 14 3-pointers on the night. Taylor Joplin led the way with three treys, while Valcheva, Dakota Duplessis, Naiya Brown, and Maddy Campbell all had two.
The Cougars also showed plenty of scoring depth as well with four players hitting double digits. Behind Valcheva's 24 points, Joplin tallied 15, while Campbell and Brown each had 12 points.
With all the talent on this year's Cougar team, it was the Nebraska All-stars that put a scare into the 17th-ranked team in the country. Former Cougar Shelby [Campbell] Peltz started things with an old-fashioned 3-point play followed by buckets by Josie Perez and Jessica Aratani for the 8-0 lead.
WNCC came back to tie it as Valcheva hit a trey with 7:43 left for the first points of the new season for the Cougars. Valcheva had seven of the first eight points. WNCC took its first lead at 11-10 on a Campbell trey, but it was short lived as the All-stars went on a 7-2 run to lead 17-13. The All-stars led 28-21 after one quarter.
The second quarter was when the Cougars decided to pick up the pace, outscoring the all-stars 26-3. WNCC opened the 10-minute quarter on a 12-0 run and finished the quarter on another 12-0 run to lead 47-31 at intermission.
The second half saw a close few minutes as the all-stars got to 54-35 on two Kalli Feddersen free throws. WNCC responded with an 18-0 run behind three treys from Dezmonea Antwine, Duplessis, and Campbell to lead 72-35. WNCC led 79-41 after three periods.
The Cougars opened the fourth quarter on a 14-0 run to lead 93-41 behind seven points from Zarrea Coleman and five points from Joplin. WNCC won the game 106-51.
The Nebraska All-stars had two players finish with double-digit scorers. Feddersen and Jessica Aratani, both former Cougar basketball players, each had 12 points. Feddersen also had five rebounds and five assists.
WNCC, 1-0, will be back in action next week with three road games. The week all starts when WNCC heads to Sheridan, Wyoming, to face Sheridan College on Tuesday. WNCC will then head to Hutchinson, Kansas, next weekend to face No. 9 Hutchinson Community College.
Valcheva said they will need to play a lot better next week.
"We need to pick up the energy," she said. "We need to be more motivated. We need to communicate more and we need to be more focused."
NE All-stars 28 3 10 10 – 51
WNCC (1-0) 21 26 32 27 – 106
Kalli Feddersen 12, Jennifer Figueroa 4, Shelby Peltz 5, Ashley Guzman 6, Josie Perez 5, Victoria Schwartz 2, Chalsey Grentz 2, Stephanie Perez 3, Jessica Aratani 12, Katie O'Boyle 0.
Tishara Morehouse 9, Yuliyana Valcheva 24, Zarrea Coleman 9, Georgia Berry 4, Dalgenis Martinez 2, Desmonea Antwine 4, Dakota Duplessis 7, Naiya Brown 12, Maddy Campbell 12, Taylor Joplin 15, Lidsey Mahoukou 8.