Jason Farmer Hobbs News Sun
March 8, 2018
When the New Mexico Junior College women's basketball team takes the court tonight, it will be the start of a new season, but it won't be against a new team. NMJC opens the NJCAA Region V Tournament tonight at 8 p.m. against Ranger College at the Tiger Pit in Wolfforth, Texas.
The No. 3 ranked Lady Thunderbirds enter the tournament as the top-seeded team from the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. NMJC went 28-2 over the season and the first of those win came in the season opener when the Lady T-Birds beat Ranger College 81-54 on November 2.
"It will be interesting because they have gotten a lot better," NMJC coach Drew Sanders said. "Hopefully we will come and bring our A game."
The Lady T-Birds enters the tournament at 28-2 after losing its regular season finale to Midland College 69-60. While the loss was not what Sanders wanted, the coach has been pleased with how his team has been preparing for the Region V Tournament.
"(Tuesday's) practice, we had really, really high energy levels," Sander said. "The kids act like they are excited to go play and if that excitement carries over to Thursday, then you will see that fun, running team going up and down the floor. I can't say for sure if that is what is going to be, but I can tell our mindset is changing and it is getting back to the way it was early in the year."
Over its 30 games regular season, NMJC is averaging 75.4 points a game while Ranger College (21-9) is averaging 63.3 points a game. Still, Sanders said Ranger College is a tough team defensively. While the Lady T-Birds scored 84 points against it in the season opener, it won't be as easy to score tonight.
"Ranger College runs really, really good man-to-man defensive pressure," Sanders said. "They are ranked No. 1 in the country in points allowed. They allow 40 points per game.
That is the first thing we have to handle, their ball pressure."
With a win, NMJC would advance to the semifinals where it will play the winner of Frank Phillips and Weatherford on Friday at 8 p.m. NMJC has not played Weatherford this year, but the Lady T-Birds have played Frank Phillips twice, winning both games.