Wyoming College Hoops Rant (2/3 — 2/17)

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Another two weeks have unfolded in Wyoming community college men’s hoops and it looks like one team is starting to separate itself from the pack of eight seven squads in the Cowboy state.

Sheridan College is rolling right now, collecting votes for the NJCAA top-20 poll and piling up five wins in a row. The General have the most wins in Wyoming with 22 and only trail Otero Junior College for the overall lead in the Region IX standings.

While Sheridan appears to be at the top of its game, the four inner-state teams below the Generals are still battling each other in attempts to climb up the standings. Northwest College, Western Wyoming Community College, Casper College, Central Wyoming College and even Gillette College look like they could still make noise at the end of the season and fight it out until the end to be Wyoming’s No. 2 team.

So without any further holdup, here is another biweekly blog of the Wyoming College Hoops rant:

1. Sheridan College, 22-4 overall

Unstoppable: Sheridan’s five-game win streak speaks loudly to how the Generals are playing ball right now. According to the latest Region IX men’s basketball report, the Generals are 11-0 at home, despite being the only team in the top seven to score less than 2,000 points as a team. But as the old saying goes, defense wins championships and that’s exactly how Sheridan is winning games right now. They posses the second-best defense in among the 21 teams in the Region IX, allowing just 1,573 points this season. That’s an average of just 60.5 points per game allowed, which is a mark that can win any game, especially when you have an average that can put up at least 75 points on any given night. Sheridan also landed in this week’s No. 1 spot for defeating Western Wyoming (regarded as a top three team in the state) 72-67 recently. That’s the second time the Generals have downed the Mustangs this season.

Player update: Sheridan isn’t exactly scoring the ball with tenacity to pick up victories this season, but the Generals still posses four very reliable players, who avergae double-digit scoring numbers. Big man Lamont Prosser still owns the team lead at 13.9 points per game while Wayne Bradford, Robert Heyer and Ron Mvoulka all average at least 10 points per outing. Next on the scoring list is actually Sherian’s primary three-point threats, R.J. Leverette and Victor Bermudez, who average nine and seven points per game, respectively. The pair has drained the most shots from downtown for Sheridan as Bermudez has nailed 40 and Leverette has connected on 31.

2. Northwest College, 19-7 overall

Huge win: The Trappers of Northwest College proved that they truly own the No 2 spot after defeating Casper College, 74-73, on the road this week. Casper was rolling at the time and even defeated NWC at home earlier this season, but it was the Trappers who pulled out the most recent win. NWC has truly been the giant killer this season with wins against Casper, Sheridan, Western and Central. The Trappers have shown they can down any team in the Cowboy state, which will make them a very dangerous team when the Region IX tournament rolls around in early March.

Player update: Freshman Chris Hansen is still the best scorer in Wyoming junior college hoops. His 19.31 points per game currently ranks No. 17 in the nation and his 68 3-pointers is tied for No. 16 in NJCAA Division I. Oddly enough, Hansen isn’t the Region IX’s top scorer — that title belongs to Miles Community College’s Tyree Anderson — but he is hands down the best in Wyoming. Hansen leads NWC’s “big three” which also includes top-notch scorers Jeffrey Solarin and Junior Coleman, who average 14.6 and 13.6 points per game, respectively.

3. Casper College, 18-7 overall

Perhaps the best: A assistant coach within the state doesn’t think I give enough love to the Thunderbirds of Casper College. He says they are the most talented team and that I should be looking closer to the wins they’ve been collecting. So I took that advice to heart this week and awarded Casper the highest ranking it has received since the Wyoming College Hoops Rant started earlier this winter. My friends on the sideline is completely right, too. Casper has pulled out some very impressive wins. The Thunderbirds recently downed a very tough Miles squad, Central Wyoming, Sheridan and Western. In fact, I would’ve given them the No. 2 spot if the Thunderbirds could’ve beaten the Trappers this week. But don’t get me wrong, this team is capable of destroying any team in the Region IX and should be considered a top contender for the region crown this March.

Player update: Casper is perhaps the most dangerous offensive team in Wyoming junior college ball. That’s mainly because they own four guys who can get it done on any given night. The most impressive right now is Jerrold Brooks, who has missed about half of the T-Birds’ games this season. Despite battling the injury or whatever it was, Brooks came back with a vengeance. The guard leads Casper in scoring at 16 points per game, holding the team lead by about four points. However, don’t count out Remi Dibo, Tyler Larson and Darrious Curry, who average 12.4, 11.6 and 10.9 points per game, respectively.

4. Western Wyoming Community College, 21-7 overall

Slipping: There was a time when the Mustangs were ranked No.1 in this blog. It just goes to show how intense the level of competition really is on the Wyoming junior college hardwood. And Western Wyoming is all too familiar with that fact right now. After starting the season off on fire and even cracking the top 10 in the NJCAA top 20 poll, the Mustangs have been on a downward spiral. They’ve lost to each of Wyoming’s top teams and have proven they can’t hang with the toughest, losing to Sheridan twice and barely splitting with Casper. The Mustangs can save a little face before the Region IX tournament, though, with matchups against NWC and Miles, but it looks like this team has lost its gusto.

Player update: Western also has a four-headed scoring threat, but not one player jumps off the paper, leaving me to wonder how the offense can create enough shots for all of these guys. But somehow, the Mustangs have made their system work in the way of 21 wins, which is very admirable. Leading Western’s attack is B.J. Kline and D.J. Stennis, who each average at least 11 points per game. The pair is closely followed by another capable duo Ian Matos and Greg Meacham, who average at least 10 points per outing.

5. Central Wyoming College, 17-9 overall

Battle at the bottom: Central is somewhat in the same boat as Western (see above). The Rustlers have sort of been bounced around in inner-state games. Every once in a while, Central stumbles upon a big win (one against Western, one against Casper, one against Northwest) and that should make them relevant in the Region IX tournament. I might even be a bigger believer if the Rustlers could have defeated Sheridan at least once this year, but that’s always a tall order for any Juco team.

Player update: Amazing, another Wyoming Juco squad has four players who average at least 10 points per game. Except this group is a little more exciting because offense is sort of Central’s crutch this year. Leading the high powered offense is James Johnson, who averages 13 points per game, primarily from the paint. He is joined by another capable big man down low, Armani Flannigan, who averages 12 points per game also in the paint. After that, a pair of guards, Davion Pearson and Malachi Roberts, each average 11 points per game and both have connected on 30 3-point shots,

The Wyoming College Hoops Rant is a biweekly blog about the top five junior college men’s basketball teams in Wyoming. It is written solely in the opinion of Wade McMillin, who has spent four years covering Wyoming community college hoops for newspapers, radio and television. Please leave comments below this post or at our mailbag to directly contact the author of this post. 

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