CASPER, Wyo. – Karli Seay finished with 23 points and the 22nd-ranked Western Nebraska Community College basketball team moved into the semifinals of the Region IX tournament with an 80-62 win over Sheridan College on Thursday at Casper College.
The Cougars, 28-3 on the year, will face Northwest College in the semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. Northwest moved into the semis with a 79-58 win over Trinidad State Junior College.
The other side of the bracket saw Miles Community College top Eastern Wyoming 74-53, while Casper College earned a 75-60 win over Lamar. Casper and Miles play at 7 p.m. The two semifinal winners advance to Saturday’s finals at 4 p.m. with a trip to the national tournament in Lubbock, Texas, on the line.
Karli Seay said that they need to keep playing strong in the semifinals because Northwest is a good ball club. WNCC beat Northwest last year in the regional tournament quarterfinals in overtime.
“We almost lost to them the first round last year so we know they will come out for revenge,” she said. “We just have to play Cougar basketball and play our game. It’s not about them, it’s about us,”
WNCC played extremely well in the first half, running to a 30-12 lead after the first quarter. WNCC finished the first half on an 8-0 run behind four points from Seay, and a bucket each from Giovanna Silva and Anastacia Johnson.
WNCC kept playing strong in the second quarter, rolling to a 46-24 halftime lead. WNCC went into the locker room on a high after Eva Langton blocked a Sheridan shot.
Seay said they played great, especially in the opening half.
“We played great,” she said. “We got out and ran which is what we normally do. Our defense was on point and our offense came through.”
Another thing that helped the Cougars was not underestimating Sheridan. They started the game on a mission and finished it.
“We knew that they would come out strong,” Seay said. “It was important not to underestimate them.”
WNCC kept playing tough in the third quarter as they built a 55-26 lead and led by 29 points, 62-33, on a Seay 3-pointer. WNCC led 73-40 after three periods.
WNCC outshot and out-boarded Sheridan in the game. The Cougars shot 47 percent compared to 39 percent for the Generals. WNCC also won the rebounding edge 47-37.
The Cougars depth and quickness was key all night. WNCC had 20 fast break points to just six for Sheridan. WNCC also won the paint, scoring 54 points from inside to just 26 for Sheridan. WNCC rebounding edge was also crucial as the Cougars had 19 second-chance points to just four for the Generals.
WNCC had four players in double figures. Seay led the charge with 23 points followed by 14 from Merle Wiehl and 10 points each from Melisa Kadic and Giovanna Silva.
WNCC also won the turnover battle, forcing 22 General turnovers.
Now the Cougars are in the semifinals and it is something that is not new for the team. WNCC has reached the Region IX title game 20 times in the last 27 years, capturing 13 regional titles.
“Being in the semis is nothing new for this team. We know anything is possible so we’re not taking anything for granted,” Seay said. “I just want to give the sophomores another regional title and I want to win my first.”
Sheridan 12 12 16 22 – 62
WNCC (28-3) 30 16 27 7 – 80
Brooke Cargal 3, Aloma Solovi 6, Noora Parttimaa 9, Raelynn Keefer 10, Kassie Hoyer 6, Lily Jex 7, Ashleigh Frampton 12, Carmen Ramey 6, Madisen Chavez 3.
Melisa Kadic 10, Merle Wiehl 14, Jaleesa Avery 9, Anastacia Johnson 8, Giovanna Silva 10, Sophie Agorakis 4, Karli Seay 23, Eva Langton 2.