Mar 9, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorCurtis Condie hasn't seen any dropoff for Central Wyoming College in his first season as the head men's basketball coach.
Condie was hired by CWC in June to take over a program left by former coach Jamie Stevens, who left after three straight winning seasons. He went back to his alma mater, Montana-State Billings.
Condie beat out Riverton High School graduate Eric Glenn for the job. Glenn is an assistant men's basketball coach at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.
Condie's resume was impressive. He had spent the past four seasons being an assistant coach for Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech plays in the Western Athletic Conference, and Condie made coaching and player connections all over the United States.
Condie built a new roster and kept CWC's winning tradition alive and well.
The Rustlers reached a milestone last weekend by recording their 20th win of the season to finish the regular season at 20-10. It was the first 20 win season for the program since 1991 (CWC dropped basketball for 15 years not long after that).
The first CWC player this year Condie introduced me to was James "Deuce" Johnson.
Johnson came to CWC from Louisiana Tech with Condie, and I interviewed the power forward when he signed a national letter of intent to play basketball next year for California State University at Fullerton.
The 6-6 Johnson hasn't disappointed me with his power dunks all season long and the great way he pulls in the rebounds. He and 6-8 Armani Flannigan make up the best one-two forward tandem in the Region IX North division.
Flannigan can sky into the air pulling in rebounds or slam dunk the basketball with authority.
Point guard Davion Pearson from Las Vegas is one of Condie's prized players. Pearson has the cocky attitude a point guard needs to have in running the show. The 5-11 Pearson backs up his attitude with good passing and outside shooting ability.
One of my favorite moments this season came on a 3-point buzzer beater from CWC's Preston Eaton when his shot beat Eastern Wyoming College on Jan. 26 before a packed house at Rustler Gym. The Rustlers celebrated the win over former Wyoming Indian star Slade Spoonhunter and his Eastern teammates.
Another key player for the Rustlers this year has been guard Malachi Roberts. He redshirted his first-year at Sheridan College before he found his second home at CWC.
Ali Sabra and Pearson knew each other while playing high school basketball in Las Vegas. Sabra has been in and out of the starting lineup, and the 5-11 guard promised me on Thursday he was going to knock in several shots this weekend at the Region IX basketball tournament at Scottsbluff, Neb.
CWC enters the do-or-die Region IX tournament on Saturday as the No. 6 seed vs. Colorado Northeastern in a 6 p.m. game.
I like the way the Region IX format is set up with the top eight teams out of nine advancing in the tournament.
The south winner gets to host the postseason battle. Neat year, the north winner will host the tournament.
I expect the Rustlers to beat Colorado Northeastern in the opening round on Saturday night. Then a rematch between Casper College and CWC would probably take place Sunday night in the second round. The Thunderbirds and the Rustlers went 1-1 in the regular season
The journey for the Rustlers to make it to the title game is going to be difficult, but I'm already thinking about next season.
I can't wait to see what type of talent Condie can bring to CWC next season with a full year under his belt.
It should be an interesting offseason for the Rustlers.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.