Western Texas had nothing to play for in Thursdayâ€™s matchup against Howard College in Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.
Sometimes those are the most dangerous teams.
The Hawksâ€™ comeback was a little too late as they fell to the Lady Westerners 55-53 in WJCAC action.
More importantly, the loss ties Howard with New Mexico Junior College for the fourth and final spot for the Region V Tournament. Both teams are at 5-5.
â€śI thought our energy was down,â€ť HC head coach Earl Diddle said. â€śGive all the credit to Western Texas. I thought they had a really good game, a really good plan offensively and defensively. I thought we were a little tentative against their 2-3 zone and I thought that really cost us the game.â€ť
WTC was in charge of the game for most of the night, but Howard made a late push in a game the Hawks needed.
The Lady Westerners were up 29-21 at halftime and opened the second half on a 7-0 run, but the Hawks fought back from that and the two squads exchanged leads for the final five minutes of the game.
The Hawks had the game tied at 50 with 2:15 left thanks to a 3-pointer from Tasha Tubbs, but WTCâ€™s Wykeia Sanders answered back with a score.
On the next possession, Howardâ€™s Kali Jerrell missed a 3-pointer, but WTC couldnâ€™t take advantage of it, leaving Howard with another chance to tie or steal the lead.
However, Jerrell missed a shot with 26 seconds left and the Hawks had to foul. Tubbsâ€™ 3-pointer, with 11 seconds left made it 54-53, but one more converted free throw was all the Lady Westerners needed.
WTC head coach Tammy Davis said her team showed a lot of character to get a road win like this.
â€śAny conference win is good in this conference,â€ť she said. â€śOur girls have just kind of settled down lately and just played. Theyâ€™ve been playing loose and theyâ€™ve done a good job.â€ť
As Diddle said, the 2-3 zone gave Howard fits all night as the Westerners made sure none of the Hawks hurt them on the offensive end. He said his players werenâ€™t attacking the WTC defense enough.
The Lady Westerners tried that defense in a loss when these two team met in Snyder earlier this season, but it wasnâ€™t as successful as it was Thursday.
The fight for a playoff spot gets interesting now, considering New Mexico Junior College beat Odessa College Thursday night. The Hawksâ€™ last two games are at Odessa and back home against Frank Phillips and theyâ€™ll need NMJC to lose in order to clinch a postseason berth.
â€śThere couldnâ€™t have been a bigger game than (Thursdayâ€™s),â€ť Diddle said. â€śIf we win and Odessa wins, weâ€™re in. Weâ€™re basically in the hands of other teams now.â€ť
All seems to be well for a team thatâ€™s had to deal with a ton of adversity this season.
After stunning No. 5 Midland Monday, the Hawks held off Western Texas College at home for a 64-56 win.
The Westerners, who upended the Hawks in Snyder, made pushes throughout the game, but couldnâ€™t keep the lead.
The Hawks were led by Joe Brightâ€™s 15 points and Tramel Whiteâ€™s 11. Corey Stern and Carlos Emory chiped in 10 apiece.
â€śWestern Texas is a sleeper and they just woke up about two games ago,â€ť HC head coach Mark Adams said. â€śItâ€™s a tough matchup for us. Coach (Jason Sautter) has got them playing hard. They were ready to play, very difficult to guard because of their quickness. I thought overall, we did a good job defensively.â€ť
Last time in Snyder, WTC guard Deverell Biggs torched the Hawks for 31 points, leading the Westerners to the win.
The Hawks didnâ€™t allow anyone to get too out of control Thursday.
Monzaigo Williams led WTC with 17 points, Biggs had 11 and Reggie Slaton had 10.
The Hawks took the Westernersâ€™ best shot at the beginning of the second half. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Williams had WTC up 36-34 with 12:57 left in the game. Then Lonnie Robinson converted a 3-point play for a 39-36 lead.
Thanks to Bright, among other people, Howard made sure that didnâ€™t last long. Howard had a 58-51 lead heading into the final minutes of the game and with WTC jockeying for a comeback, Bright stole the ball and scored
to essentially seal the win.
Through suspensions and forfeiting wins, the Hawks are already in the playoffs with 10 wins in conference play. Thursdayâ€™s game and the final two games are all about positioning themselves for a better seed in the Region V Tournament. The No. 1 seed is possible, too. The Hawks sit just a game back of 11-1 Midland College.
It all looks too familiar to Joe Bright, who is one of two sophomores who were on last yearâ€™s national championship team.
â€śWeâ€™re making a run like we did last year, right at the end,â€ť he said. â€śSo weâ€™re looking good right now.â€ťView more articles in: