TORRINGTON – Despite leading by 14 at one point against Western Wyoming Community College Friday in Torrington, the Eastern Wyoming College Lancers let their lead slip away and a shot by the Mustangs with 3.5 seconds to go sealed the loss for the Lancers.
The Lancers got out to a solid start, taking a 9-0 lead less than three minutes into the game. They continued to lead and held a 36-26 advantage with 5:50 remaining in the first half and they grew their lead to 45-33 at the intermission.
“We definitely played a really good half of basketball,” coach Neal Sherbeyn said. “We were pushing and playing tough defense.”
The Mustangs came out hot in the second half, trimming the Lancer lead to 51-47 with 13:42 to go and they went on to tie it at 58 with 11:02 left on the clock. Walker Korell nailed two three-pointers, giving the Lancers a 68-63 lead and forcing a WWCC timeout with 6:44 to go. EWC continued its hot play to build a 74-65 lead, but they hit a cold spell and the Mustangs came back to tie the game at 77 with 2:31 remaining.
“With about 4:55 in the game, we were up by 10 with pretty good control of the game, but we just stopped doing what we do best,” Sherbeyn said.
Korell made it rain again from three-point land, giving the Lancers an 80-77 lead, but WWCC quickly answered with a three of their own. Brandon Meadows was fouled and hit one of his free throws to take an 81-80 lead. A layup by the Mustangs with less than a minute to go gave the visitors an 82-81 lead. Rhythm Ajanku hit a layup and was fouled, but missed the free throw, giving the Lancers an 83-82 lead. With 3.5 seconds to go, WWCC drained a three-pointer to take an 85-83 lead. A miscommunication on the inbounds pass gave the ball back to the Mustangs, sealing the game at 85-83.
“With 12 seconds left, they came down and got into the paint,” Sherbeyn said. “A guy who didn’t shoot a three all game hits a three in the corner with nobody there because we were running from the inside out.”
Meadows had a big game for the Lancers, turning in 23 points for a team-high. Meadows finished with a double-double, leading the Lancers with 10 boards. He also had a block and two steals. Korell was second on the team with 19 points. He shot 7-of-9 from the field, including 5-of-7 from behind the arc. Korell rounded out his stat sheet with four rebounds and two steals.
Nick Holmes was the final Lancer in double-figures, pouring in 10 points on the night.
Trey Schroefel, Jonathan Morrobel and Alek Cosic joined Holmes and Korell as starters on the night. Schroefel accounted for seven points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and he chipped in three rebounds. Morrobel and Cosic combined for 10 points, three rebounds and a steal. Ajanku and Kolton Wall combined to come off the bench for 10 points, an assist, a block and a steal.
CWC 106, EWC 102
The Lancers picked up where they left off Friday in their game Saturday, opening against Central Wyoming College with back-and-forth scoring.
“We were pretty all devastated last night and probably the most devastated was me,” Sherbeyn said. “The team hurt and they took it personal. I was really scared with how we were going to come out today because in the past I’ve seen our teams sell out.”
Five minutes into the first half and EWC held a 12-11 lead, but the Rustlers quickly wrestled away the lead and built a 30-25 lead at the midway point in the first half. At intermission, EWC trailed 53-41.
The visitors held the Lancers at bay for much of the second half, keeping the distance in the double-figures, including the largest lead of the game at 20 points. Down the stretch, EWC started chipping away at the CWC lead, with a three-pointer by Holmes putting the score at 96-88 with less than two minutes to go.
“The guys don’t want to lose either. Those guys are competitors and I think we’ve got a really good ball team,” Sherbeyn said of his team clawing back into the game late. “They want to win. They do take it personal.”
EWC continued to cut into the lead with CWC missing several free throws in the final minutes. With 22.8 seconds left, the Lancers were down 103-98 and they continued the high effort as the remaining seconds ticked off, but fell 106-102.
“I was very proud of them. They didn’t quit,” Sherybeyn said. “They fought and they battled until the end and that’s something you can always hang your hat on.”
Six Lancers were in double-figures, led by Holmes and Meadows, who had 18 points apiece. Meadows again lead the way on the boards, with seven rebounds, while also accounting for an assist and a team-high three steals. Holmes chipped in two rebounds and three assists.
Jordan Mirich was second on the team in scoring with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. He also had three assists and a steal. Ajanku turned in 13 points, two rebounds, two steals and a team-high six assists. Morrobel, with 11 points, and Cosic, with 10 points, rounded out the top scorers for EWC. They also combined for 11 rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
The Lancers now sit at 1-7 on the young season. Their last game of the month comes on the road Nov. 30 against Northeastern Junior College at 7:30 p.m.
“We haven’t played a complete game yet and I’m waiting for that. When we get it, whoever we are playing needs to watch out,” Sherbeyn said.