The 13th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team and the North Platte Community College put on a battle between two one-loss teams coming into Wednesday’s action.
Both teams battled back and forth with plenty of runs, but the Cougars put together an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter behind back-to-back 3-pointers by Shayane Poirot and Ashley Panem to open up the lead and lead the Cougars to a 78-59 win over the Lady Knights in a contest that was much closer than the final score.
“We got the win but I think it wasn’t our best game,” Poirot, a freshman from France, said. “We will keep working.”
WNCC knew this was going to be a challenge against a North Platte team that has been to the national tournament two of the last three years.
“To be honest, we go into every game knowing we have a good game and we know if we have our best game there is no way anyone can beat us,” she said. “We still scouted them and we saw they had good players and they were playing good basketball. We still came and even if we had a bad game, we hit some good shots and found a way to get the win.”
The contest was a battle of two good defensive teams in Region IX and the score after three quarters showed as the two defenses were limiting buckets by both teams.
WNCC shot just 37 percent from the field and were 32% from the 3-point arc, nailing 10 of 31 3-pointers. North Platte shot 36% from the field and were just 24% from beyond the arc (5-of-21).
The first quarter was tight as Sidney’s Janay Brauer hit a 3-pointer to tie the contest at 7-7 for North Platte. WNCC came back to take a 13-9 lead but saw North Platte cut the lead to 13-12. WNCC scored the last six points, including a 3-pointer by Ale’Jah Douglas with the clock running out, to give the Cougars the 19-12 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw North Platte score the first five points on a bucket by Kayla Pope and then another 3-pointer by Brauer to cut the lead to 19-17. WNCC went on an 11-0 run behind threes from Douglas, Panem, and Shanti Henry for a 30-17 lead.
North Platte battled back on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 32-26 on a 3-pointer by Pope. WNCC’s Amani Brown closed out the half with a trey with a few seconds left for the 35-26 halftime lead.
The third quarter was tight throughout as North Platte cut the lead to 37-33 on a bucket by Jordyn Moon. WNCC rebounded and took a 43-35 lead on a Martrice Brooks bucket and led later 48-41 on another Brooks bucket. North Platte cut the lead to two, 50-48 on an Isa Valenzuela bucket, but Poirot hit a long-range 3-pointer for the 53-48 lead after three periods.
WNCC opened the fourth on a 7-0 run to lead 60-48. North Platte came back, cutting the lead to 60-54 with 5:50 to play on two free throws by Fumnaya Ijeh. That was when WNCC opened the game with the 8-0 run behind Poirot and Panem’s treys and a Brooks bucket that saw her get two offensive rebounds before putting the ball into the hoop.
North Platte had two players in double figures in the loss. Pope finished with 17 points with two threes while Brauer had 10 points with two threes.
WNCC had three players in double figures. Douglas led the way with 16 points with two threes and seven rebounds. Brown finished with 13 points while Panem had 10 points, including three 3-pointers.
WNCC won the rebound battle 49-46 as Douglas had seven followed by Panem and Aminata Zie each with six.
WNCC will have Thanksgiving off before heading up to Casper this weekend for the T-Bird Classic where they will face Western Wyoming Community College on Friday and Casper College on Saturday.
North Platte (6-2) 12 14 22 11 – 59
WNCC (6-1) 19 16 18 25 – 78
Ale’Jah Douglas 16, Amani Brown 13, Ashley Panem 10, Shanti Henry 9, Shayane Poirot 9, Aminata Zie 8, Martrice Brooks 6, Payton Fields 3, Mia Jaye Sarkodee-Adoo 2, Rashaan Smith 2.