Western Texas had nothing to play for in Thursday’s matchup against Howard College in Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.
Sometimes those are the most dangerous teams.
The Hawks’ 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.
“I thought our energy was down,” HC head coach Earl Diddle said. “Give 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.”
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 WTC’s Wykeia Sanders answered back with a score.
On the next possession, Howard’s Kali Jerrell missed a 3-pointer, but WTC couldn’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. Tubbs’ 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.
“Any conference win is good in this conference,” she said. “Our girls have just kind of settled down lately and just played. They’ve been playing loose and they’ve done a good job.”
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 weren’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 wasn’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 Hawks’ last two games are at Odessa and back home against Frank Phillips and they’ll need NMJC to lose in order to clinch a postseason berth.
“There couldn’t have been a bigger game than (Thursday’s),” Diddle said. “If we win and Odessa wins, we’re in. We’re basically in the hands of other teams now.”
All seems to be well for a team that’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 couldn’t keep the lead.
The Hawks were led by Joe Bright’s 15 points and Tramel White’s 11. Corey Stern and Carlos Emory chiped in 10 apiece.
“Western Texas is a sleeper and they just woke up about two games ago,” HC head coach Mark Adams said. “It’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.”
Last time in Snyder, WTC guard Deverell Biggs torched the Hawks for 31 points, leading the Westerners to the win.
The Hawks didn’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 Westerners’ 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 didn’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. Thursday’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 year’s national championship team.
“We’re making a run like we did last year, right at the end,” he said. “So we’re looking good right now.”