Freshman Josh McNair (Denver Colorado) grabbed an offensive rebound and took it to the basket with 18.2 seconds remaining to help the Laramie County Community College Golden Eagles secure a 78-74 victory against North Platte Community College at home. The victory is the fourth consecutive over the Knights at the LCCC Gymnasium.
McNair and the Golden Eagles (11-6, 3-2) found themselves trailing five minutes into the second half after North Platte (8-7, 2-3) opened the half with a 15-3 run and took a 46-40 lead. The Knights and Golden Eagles traded baskets over the next nine minutes to keep the game tight. Sophomore Iziah Sherman-Newsome (Anchorage, Alaska) hit a three-point bucket with 5:17 remaining to cut the lead down to one.
“North Platte Community College amped up the pressure defensively to start the second half and really jammed us on our hand-offs at the top of the key, and that led to their 15-3 run,” said head LCCC head basketball coach Jason Ficca. “We had anticipated them to start the game like this, but it was good for us to settle back into our game.”
Sophomore Gavin Peppers (Brookeville, Maryland), who led all scorers with 20 points and seven assists, regained the lead for the Golden Eagles with less than three minutes to go as he drove to the basket and laid it off the glass. Freshman Alfonzo Anderson (Newark, New Jersey) helped the Golden Eagles with a pair of three-pointers down the stretch and a running floater with less than two minutes to play. After the Knights were unable to respond on the offensive end, LCCC had possession with 46.3 remaining. The Golden Eagles got a good look on some ball reversal, and Sherman-Newsome put up a three, but it fell off to the left and into the hands of LCCC’s McNair. North Platte had a chance to tie it up but choose to drive to the basket and cut the lead to one. The Knights were unsuccessful, and Peppers got the rebound and was fouled with 5.1 remaining. He knocked down one of his two free-throws.
“We’ve been playing a little more man-to-man defense in the last two games, which is more than we probably played in the last two years,” Ficca said.
The Golden Eagles as a team shot 45 percent from the field on 27-60 shooting, were 8-20 from the three-point line for 40 percent and 16-22 from the foul line for 72.2 percent. They held the Knights to 26.7 percent from the three-point line. The Knights came into the game shooting 35 percent from the three-point line.
“We were able to defend dribble penetration and close down tightly on the perimeter, making it difficult, and that is what college basketball has turned into,” Ficca said.
McNair finished with 15 points on the night while fellow freshman Anderson had 14 points. Freshman Micheal Obindu (Ibusa, Nigeria) was just shy of recording a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Time Wagner led the Knights in scoring with 15 points and dished out six assists.
With the victory, Laramie County Community College improves to 11-6 on the year and 3-2 in South Sub Region IX play. The Golden Eagles will have little down time. They are back on the floor Saturday, Jan. 9, hosting McCook Community College at 3 p.m.
“Tomorrow we are going to need all hands on deck and get some help from our bench,” Ficca said of their game against McCook Community College.