Rustler nearly pull off upset, but eliminated from Region IX tourney

Mar 2, 2014 By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

North Plate Community College scored with four seconds on the clock on Saturday night to avoid being upset by the Central Wyoming College Rustlers men's basketball team 71-69 in the opening round game of the Region IX tournament.

The winning basket came off an inbounds play under CWC's basket.

The Rustlers had two seconds to shoot a desperation attempt that missed.

The do-or-die game was played in Sterling, Colo.

North Platte came in a heavy favorite over CWC.

"We played really hard," CWC coach Pat Rafferty said. "I was really proud of the effort from the guys."

North Platte had been nationally ranked for most of the season.

North Platte is the No. 2 seed from the South sub-region division.

"I felt like we matched up with them, and I felt like we could beat them," Rafferty said.

The loss ends the CWC season. The Rustlers finished 12-17 under Rafferty in his first season at the helm of the Rustlers. CWC entered as the No. 7 seed from the region.

"We had a couple of plays right in front of us against North Platte that we didn't make," Rafferty said. "The last play of the game was big, but there were others that were just as big."

North Platte 71, CWC 69

The Rustlers surprised North Plate in the first half, taking a 34-27 lead to intermission.

North Platte came back in the second half, and North Platte gradually built a 10-point lead at the seven-minute mark.

"We made a really great rally to come back," Rafferty said. "We were able to make some good plays and hit some big shots.

"The guys played hard and put us in position to win. We just had a couple of plays right in front of us that we didn't make."

In the key run in the second half, the team and the coaches were on the right page.

"We made some adjustments and the guys figured some things out, too," Rafferty said. "We were able to take advantage on some things."

CWC's Bryce Canda was one on fire all night long. Canda scored 26 points, with seven 3-pointers.

"Whenever you are down, you have to get stops," Rafferty said. "We had it on both ends of the floor."

Isaiah Tademy finished right behind Canda in the scoring department at 21 points. Daryl Morgan Jr., and Eimer Lopez scored 13 points apiece.

The tournament will continue all this week with the semifinals and the title game set for Tuesday and Wednesday in Colorado.

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