The Central Wyoming College Rustler men's basketball team earned the right to keep playing in postseason action this week as they advanced past sub-region play and into quarterfinal action of the NJCAA Region IX tournament with Saturday's 85-76 win over Miles Community College.
"It definitely wouldn't be classified as the prettiest win we've had this year but during this time of year it doesn't matter what it looks like," said head coach Jack Nelson. "I am just really excited for our kids to be able to grind out the victory and have an opportunity to go to Gillette and have the chance to keep playing. I love our guys and we are definitely not quite ready for this season to be done. We have to keep earning the right to play another day from here on out."
Balanced offense helped carry the team through a rough second half stretch. After heading into halftime up 10, the Rustlers trailed by one point with 10 minutes remaining in the second half. They then scored on eight of the next 11 possessions to pull away. Five Rustlers ended the game in double figures. The team was led by a dominant double-double performance from Canadian born Irshaad Hunte with 23 points and 10 rebounds. His Turkish post partner, Alihan Demir, finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds, most of which came in the second half. Nick Brannon had a tremendous first half on the offensive glass, and despite foul trouble late in the game, finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Local Wolverine product Chris Quayle had 12 points and eight boards, while point guard Devon Colley dished out an impressive 10 assists to go along with seven points. Casper native Marcus Nolan once again came off the bench to give the Rustlers a big time boost as he finished the afternoon with 12 points and five rebounds.
The team moves on to quarterfinal action in the Region IX tournament as they take on Lamar Community College (25-6) at Gillette this Thursday. Tip-off is set for 1pm. For Rustler fans that cannot make the drive, there is tournament information and a live stream that can be found here: http://www.gcpronghorns.com/2017-mens-basketball-region-ix-tournament/
The winner of the Region IX tournament will advance to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Hutchinson Kansas.