Feb 9, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets Sports EditorWestern Wyoming focused its defense on slowing down Central Wyoming College forward James Johnson Wednesday night in a Region IX North men's basketball battle at Rustler Gym.
The Mustangs played zone defense the entire way and controlled the Rustlers in a 61-49 victory.
Johnson ended the game with eight points in 35 minutes of work. The 6-foot-6 forward pulled in a team-high 10 rebounds.
"We knew that we couldn't stop them man-to-man because we are undersized," Western Wyoming coach Trave Bevell said. "We had to find ways to keep the ball out of Johnson's hands the whole game."
Johnson had four offensive rebounds and six defensive rebounds.
"That was a great coaching move on Western's part, because they couldn't guard Johnson in the post," said CWC coach Curtis Condie. "Our guys fell apart."
Johnson has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball next season at Cal State-Fullerton/
"Western is very good good," Condie said. "I give them all the credit in the world. They were ready to play, and we weren't."
CWC struggled at the line, going 6-19, while the Mustangs were 14-19. The Rustlers were 7-27 from the 3-point line.
"CWC slows it down," Bevell said. "They like to run set plays. We score a lot, but we have to play the tempo of the game."
The loss dropped the Rustlers to 6-5 in conference play and 17-6 overall. Western is 6-5 in the league.
Western 61, CWC 49
CWC had the early 17-10 lead on a 3-pointer from Davion Pearson. Braden Wright put in another 3-pointer for CWC for a 23-15 advantage.
The tide started to change in the final stages of the first half.
Western pulled ahead 24-23 with two minutes left, but Wright scored a layup right at the break for one-point lead at 25-24.
"We let up," said Condie. "That is what happens when you have a bunch of freshmen that don't know how to play at this level."
Bevell had faith the Mustangs were in good shape at the break.
"I knew at halftime that I liked our chances," Bevell said. "Our problem all year is that we don't compete for 40 minutes. Now, we are starting to compete."
CWC's Preston Eaton wasn't a factor in the first half because of two quick fouls.
In the second half, Eaton tried to rally his squad with five 3-pointers. Eaton led CWC's attack with 15 points.
The shooting by Eaton wasn't enough as Western slowly pulled ahead of the Rustlers.
The Mustangs were up 43-35 and 56-44 for the win.
Western's DJ Stennis and Greg Meacham had 11 points apiece.
Central will return to the home court this Saturday when the Sheridan College Generals come to Rustler Gym. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
Western 61, CWC 49
WESTERN 24 37 -- 61
CWC 25 24 -- 49
Western -- Ian Matos 4 1-2 9, Craig Tucker 2 (1) 0-0 7, DJ Stennis 2 (1) 4-5 11, BJ Kline 2 2-2 6, Eric Rippetoe 3 2-2 8, Sam Wunderli 0 4-4 4, Greg Meacham 1 (3) 0-1 11, Danilo Toskovic 2 1-3 5. Totals 16 (5) 14-19 61.
CWC -- Davion Pearson 1 (1) 1-5 6, Armani Flannigan 3 2-3 8, Preston Eaton (5) 0-0 15, James Johnson 3 2-6 8, Ali Sabra 2 0-1 4, Braden Wright 2 (1) 1-2 8. Totals 11 (7) 6-19 49.
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