By: Shawn O’Brate
TWIN FALLS, IDAHO – The Central Wyoming College (CWC) basketball teams traveled down to the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) to participate in the CSI Classic where they would find some of the toughest talent they’ll face this season.
The men’s team headed to Idaho after beating Northeastern Junior College (NJC) in Sterling, Colo., on Tuesday by a score of 74-66. That gave them plenty of momentum heading into the weekend, especially after winning four of their last five games.
Tuesday’s game seemed sluggish after the Rustlers had a six-hour bus ride. They only scored two points in the first five minutes of the game before former Riverton High School superstar Lucas Engle came off the bench and scored six points right away. That would be enough to help push the Rustlers into the lead and helped give them the nudge they needed to never let the Eagles regain it.
In that game four bench players, including Engle, scored double-digits with Jaren Miller finishing with a game-high 15 points on four-of-seven shooting and draining two of his three three pointers.
“We are a team. All 11 guys on our roster are capable of impacting the game,” Head Coach Brad Schmit said about the NJC matchup. “Tonight our bench scored 53 of our 74 points. That is a good sign if this can continue.”
The two games during the weekend did not have the same feel to them, especially when it came time to play the home team, CSI. CWC had their hands full with “two of the best teams in the country” in Snow College on Friday and CSI on Saturday.
Friday’s game would end in a 102-75 loss for the Rustlers with big games from Trey Simms off the bench, scoring 17 points, and Niieihii Black who led the team with 18 points. The game started out alright for the Rustlers as they jumped out to a 13-9 lead before Snow College scored 16 unanswered points.
After losing to the 14th-ranked team in the country the Rustlers then had to go up against the seventh-ranked team on their home court, something that Coach Schmit knew was going to be an uphill battle.
“These teams are legit,” Coach Schmit said. “They have size, shooting, athleticism, and two great coaches.”
The game against CSI never went the Rustlers’ way and ended in a 88-60 loss despite strong performances by Black and Julian Roberts who both scored 16 or more points with Black recording a double-double thanks to his 12 rebounds.
“We definitely did not play our best basketball, but even if we did I’m not sure we could have beaten either of those teams,” Coach Schmit said afterward.
At that same tournament in Southern Idaho the Lady Rustlers looked to get the 0-4 monkey off their back, something that new Head Coach Layton Westmoreland did not see coming off the heels of his previous success at other schools.
The weekend would not start well, with the Lady Rustlers dropping the ball early and letting the CSI Lady Eagles go up 21-4 before the second quarter ever began. Sophomore guard Ivana Bijic out of Serbia was the only Lady Rustler to score double-digits, dropping 10 points in 29 minutes to go along with her team-high nine rebounds.
They simply could not find the bottom of the net, shooting 14-57 from the field (24.6%) and tallying up 34 total points as CSI wollaped on CWC, winning by 46 points.
Luckily, the next day would go much better for the Lady Rustlers as they notched their first win of the season against Community Christian College (CCC) by a score of 104-77. In the win the girls finally looked alive as every single starter scored double-digits, with freshman Criselle Mendoza scoring the most (24 points), and Hadyn Collie slicing through the CCC defense for 15 points off the bench.
Bijic had 14 rebounds to go with her 10 points, marking her first double-double of the season.
The Lady Rustlers travel to Williston, N.D., before this edition of the Fremont County Sports pages, so be on the lookout for the recaps, scores and quotes from the game in the weekend edition and on WyoToday.com.
After that the Lady Rustlers travel to Miles Community College for the MCC Classic on Friday and Saturday. They face the home team MCC Lady Pioneers on Friday at 5 p.m. and the United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Then, next Tuesday, November 29, the Lady Rustlers host the Northeastern Junior College team at 5:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the men’s team has the exact same opponents this weekend with MCC facing off against CWC at 7 p.m., right after the Lady Rustlers’ game. Then, on Saturday, they play the UTTC at noon before traveling back home to host the Northeastern Junior College team on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.