By Robert Magobet
Both Neosho County Community College basketball teams went down to Dodge City Community College on Wednesday evening at NCCC.
The Lady Panthers barely fell short 73-71, and the Panthers lost a relatively close one 99-88.
In the first game, it was all about two contributors who came off the bench for NCCC. Freshman Tanay Williams had a career-high 17 points on 5 of 8 3s, eight rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while freshman Mike’Ya House added 15 points on 2 of 4 3s and four rebounds. Sophomore Briona Jensen contributed her second double-double of the year with 11 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, and two assists.
“We’re a young team learning how to win in the best conference in the country,” NCCC women’s coach JJ Davis said. “I’m really proud of Tanay Williams. I’m really proud of Mike’Ya House. That’s two games in a row she’s finished in double figures. Briona Jensen had another double-double. (I’m) really proud. Our really good shooters, Lauren Jones, Sarah Hunt, and Jenna (Eytchson), kind of struggled from the field. But we still found a way to be competitive.”
NCCC turned the ball over 24 times and shot the rock at 29 percent. Dodge City had 22 turnovers and was 42 percent from the field.
In a tight one towards the end – Dodge City led by as much as 16 in the third quarter – the Lady Panthers had at least five transition plays where they had an opportunity to score a basket. In those moments, NCCC turned the ball over three times.
When one team doesn’t take advantage, the other team usually does. Dodge City, a team NCCC hasn’t beaten in four years, made the plays that needed to be made down the stretch.
The Conquistador’s leading scorer was freshman Keimora Banks with 20 points and three steals.
It didn’t help that NCCC’s talented freshman point guard Destiny Stanford was in foul trouble. Stanford plays a physical brand of basketball, but Davis said the coaching staff will work with her to correct that.
All in all, Davis is just happy his team can play in a pandemic.
“We played – that’s a blessing in of itself,” he said. “We thank everybody for just believing in us, for letting us play, for supporting us, and just giving us a chance to play. That’s the most important thing to me is that these kids are getting to play, and try to get back to normal.”
NCCC (1-2, 0-1) will journey to No. 12 Hutchinson on Saturday to play their next game. Tip-off is slated for 5:30 pm.
24 16 23 10 - 73
18 19 11 23 - 71
Williams 17, House 15, Jensen 11, Hunt 6, Stanford 4, Haley Perkins 3, Sadie Govan 7, Jenna Eytcheson 6, Rajone Callahan 2
In the second game versus the No. 2 team in Jayhawk West, Panthers sophomore De”Antray Hughes had a double-double, amassing a team-high 19 points, 14 rebounds, and two steals. Freshman Magic Reliford put up 17 points on 5 of 14 3s, two assists, and a steal. Freshman Deondre Buggage registered 11 points, six dimes, five rebounds, and a steal; sophomore Daniel Titus produced 10 points, three assists, two blocks, and eight rebounds; and freshman Tremaine Chesley had 16 points and four rebounds.
This game came down to turning missed 3s into baskets.
“We got a little tired, and some of our shots were falling short,” men’s head coach Jeremy Coombs said. “And then we missed some 3s that fell short, that ended up in long rebounds they were able to grab and get some buckets in transition.”
Dodge City also shot the ball extremely well, making 52 percent of their shots and 44 percent of their 3s. Dodge City was 20 of 33 from the free-throw line compared to NCCC’s 14 of 24. Dodge City freshman Dhieu Deing put up a career-high 33 points on 7 of 10 3s and seven rebounds. All-American sophomore Walyn Napper had 19 points and eight assists.
With a combination of Dodge City’s size, speed and girth, NCCC couldn’t play as many players as they normally do. That, in turn, tired out some players.
Despite the disparity in size, the Panthers’ original game plan was working to a tee early on. NCCC worked its ball screens to get the Conquistadors in some unfavorable situations. But as the game went on in the first half, freshman Cougar Downing and three other starters got into foul trouble. Dodge City countered this by running the floor often, outscoring the Panthers in the last three minutes of the first half.
Still, NCCC was able to make it a game as evidenced by five ties and two lead changes. The Panthers just ran out of gas.
“I thought we battled. I thought we did a nice job,” Coombs said. “Our guys stepped up and really competed. I was really pleased with where we are at. We just got to put it all together.”
The Panthers (2-1, 0-1) will play No. 14 Hutchinson Saturday 7:30 pm on the road.
Dodge City 50 49 - 99
NCCC 42 46 - 88
Hughes 19, Reliford 17, Chesley 16, Buggage 11, Titus 10, Downing 8, Makye Loggins 5, Malik Carson 2