HOBBS, N.M. — The Howard College women's basketball team tossed a huge monkey wrench at the Western Junior College Athletic Conference race Monday night.
On the same night they were mathematically eliminated from postseason play, the Hawks decided to play spoiler in a major way by crushing WJCAC leader New Mexico Junior College, 67-51, Monday night.
Howard's win creates a bit of a logjam at the top of the league standings — the loss drops NMJC into a tie for with Midland College with identical 9-2 marks, while Odessa College is only a game back at 8-3.
The Hawks improved to 18-11 overall and 4-7 in conference play with the win.
Howard dominated throughout the game, racing out to a 35-14 lead at the half. The most telling statistic was the Hawks' 43-31 advantage in rebounding (the edge in the decisive first half was 26-9).
HC Assistant Coach Jamie Fisher called the team's performance its best of the season.
“They played with a lot of intensity,” Fisher said. “They executed very well both offensively and defensively. They took control of the game from the start and played with a lot of emotion.”
Point guard Kali Jerrell led all scorers with 26 points, while Porche Young and Zeslie Johnson each added nine points for the Hawks.
“Kali did a very good job,” Fisher said. “She didn't force her shots. Instead, she took what New Mexico's defense gave her. In fact, you could say that about the whole team (Monday). Kali played like we expected her to play all year.
“Defensively, we held them from the get-go. We kept them off the boards and took control of the game that way.”
The Hawks conclude the 2011-2012 season at home Monday against WJCAC cellar-dweller Frank Phillips College. Game time is 5:45 p.m.
The Howard College Hawks and NMJC Thunderbirds are now neck-and-neck in the battle for second place in the conference standings.
The T-Birds created the deadlock by downing Howard, 57-54, Monday night.
Howard and NMJC are tied for second place in conference with identical 9-4 league marks with one game left in the season. Both squads have clinched a spot in next month's Region V basketball tournament, but exact seeding has yet to be determined.
The Hawks conclude the regular season at home Monday against Frank Phillips College, while NMJC plays at Snyder against Western Texas College.