by: Kyle Inman- Sports Writer for Journal Advocate
The Northeastern Junior College mens basketball team fell 88-83 in a game with Casper College that wasn't decided until the final moments in Sterling on Friday, Dec. 15.
NJC gained a 26-23 lead off an offensive rebound and tip in by Mohammad Elradi, but Casper went on a nine-point run near the end of the first half. Dan Villejo scored after an offensive rebound, but the Plainsmen went into the halftime break down 44-38.
Casper started the second half with seven consecutive points, before Keishon Parker scored to cut the deficit to nine points. Casper was up 56-40, before Ben Davis II scored on the interior to start NJC's comeback attempt. The Plainsmen would cut the lead down to two points, before falling back behind by 10 with five minutes to play.
Burwell scored eight straight points, with the last two tieing the game with one minute left to play. Dodo was whistled for a foul and then hit with a technical foul with 45 seconds remaining. Casper converted at the free-throw line and NJC wasn't able to come back again as time expired.
Burwell led the Plainsmen with 26 points, while Dodo added 13 with nine rebounds. Davis II scored 13 points in 14 minutes of playing time and Ron Hall added 11 points.
"Our kids always play hard, but the thing we're having a hard time with is executing the things that we're trying to accomplish," coach Eddie Trenkle said. "These kids have always had fight and moxy. If we can just execute a little better and not get those huge leads put on us, then we won't have to fight back like that. That's the goal behind this right now."
The Plainsmen have hit a rough stretch of schedule that has seen them drop the last four games. Their overall record stands at 7-7, but the team will have a chance to try and figure things out with time off during Christmas break.
"It will be a chance to regroup and watch some film," Trenkle said. "See what we are doing on film really well and go back to that. We're kind of a team without an identity; we used to have an identity and I'm not sure what happened, part of it is our tough schedule. I think if we go get our identity back, then we will be fine. That's my job as coach is to figure out what we do well and then go back to that."
The team will play again at home on Jan. 5 when they host Otero Junior College at 7:30 p.m., followed by a game on Jan. 6 at home against Lamar Community College at 4 p.m.