A substitution of players led to Neosho County Community College’s second straight win of the year.
The men’s basketball program won in comfortable fashion 91-67 over Hesston College Tuesday night, directly after the women’s game.
Trey Bates had 18 points, Deonte Hicks had 16, Torey Cargo scored 16 points and dished out six assists, and Corbett Kimberlin chipped in with 11.
“We went with a new five; I just didn’t think we brought out the energy we should have brought out and I don’t know if that worked or not. The second five struggled a little bit, but we gave them confidence and they shot it really well, so they continued to make some shots,” Head Coach Jeremy Coombs said. “But I thought it kind of woke up our bench a little bit, so when we went back to our starters, I thought they played really well. So it’s just kind of hit and miss. You’re just trying to see if you can get a reaction out of your team and get them going.”
That didn’t happen until a crucial adjustment made by Coombs directly following a timeout with the score at 17-10 early in the first half.
Hesston had grabbed the lead from repressing defense and fundamentally sound offense, but after starting Cargo, Jonathan Breeland Jr., Kimberlin, Jae-Min Yang and Chol Adup, Coombs brought in Bates, James Taylor, Hicks, Daniel Titus and Elijah Griffin, and these players started to swing the momentum in favor of the Panthers, though the starting five put their imprint on the game before being substituted out.
Adup had a crucial offensive rebound and was fouled, getting a chance at the charity stripe. He sank both free throws to make the score 22-20 Hesston.
Taking momentum from the grit of the starting five, Bates was subbed in and knocked down a 3, which gave his unit the first lead of the ballgame at 25-24 halfway through the first half.
Adding on to how important the second unit was to NCCC’s second win of the year, on a full-court trap defense Coombs instructed Hicks to move back further, and he was still able to steal a pass from Hesston before laying it up to make the score 33-24 in the first half.
Hicks said his role is to provide energy for his team.
“My role is to come in and play defense and hit the shots I can make,” Hicks said after the game. “My teammates are going to pass me the ball every time, and when I got the time to get the ball, I’m going to hit the shot or make the right pass to the open player. I’m real confident because I know I go in the gym and shoot those shots every day. I feel real confident taking those shots.”
The first half ended with a crossover dribble move from Cargo, and he drove to the lane and passed to Titus, who laid it up for 2 at the end of the half; the halftime score was 45-35 NCCC.
To Coombs’ point, the second unit, in fact, woke up the first unit. In the second half, Adup forced a steal in the first minute. Cargo then hit two 3s in the first minute to make the score 51-37.
Bates then ended the 11-4 run with a 3, which made the score 56-39.
The Panthers had gotten the lead up by as much as 25 in the second half.
NCCC hit 12 3s at nearly a 43 percent clip, while shooting nearly 54 percent in field goal percentage for the game. On defense, the Panthers held Hesston to just 42.6 percent shooting overall, and 45.8 percent on threes. For free throws, the Panthers shot at 81.8 percent, while the Cavaliers were 55.6 percent.
Hesston’s high scorers were Jacob Baker and Langston Flowers with 12.
Up next, the Panthers (2-0) will play Highland Community College at Fort Scott today at 4 pm.