The Lamar Community College men's basketball team collected two more wins before the break to move to 15-1 on the season and 3-0 South Sub-Region play last week while extended their winning streak to 10. Those two wins helped Lopes to move up two more spots on the NJCAA Division 1 rankings to #13.
First, on December 10, the Lopes won their third Region IX South Sub-Region contest of the season against the North Platte Community College Knights, with a final score of 72-63.
The Knights led by 12 points in the first half, but the Lopes rallied to take a 36-33 lead at halftime with a 3-point field goal by Michael Skinner with less than a second left on the clock.
"We started the game strong for the first a couple of minutes but North Platte was ready to put together their own run. Their defense bothered our offensive flow but our guys understand that we needed to pick up the pace and show more intensity on both ends of the floor," said Lopes head coach Sercan Fenerci.
The Knights started out the second half outscoring the Lopes 5-0 to take a two-point lead. The score remained close with several lead changes until the Lopes opened it up in the last two minutes, forcing the Knights to take desperation shots to get back into the game.
"We knew it was going to be a grind from the first minute to the last. NPCC is one of the teams to beat in South Sub-Region in the past several years, very disciplined and very well coached," said Fenerci. "We have lots of respect for NPCC. But we told our guys that as long as everyone does their job on the floor we would come up on top. I am proud of the effort that our guys put, both played and not played, for the win especially after our very first ranking in the national polls this past week."
The Lopes were led in scoring by Michael Skinner with 27 points. Wayne Stewart followed that lead, adding 14 points, and Taylor Shepard added 13. Skinner also added 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. Isaiah Martin added 10 rebounds and had five block shots.
The Lopes then hosted the Adams State University JV squad on Monday, December 12, in Wellness Center for the second game of the week.
The game was a shoot-out from the beginning with both teams scoring easy baskets. The Lopes defense held ASU-JV to 39 points at the half, going into the locker-room 66-39.
"The last games of the semesters are always one of the hardest to play, especially after getting a big South Sub-Region win a couple days ago," said Fenerci.
The second half started in similar fashion with both teams are scoring easy points. The Lopes, however, finished the game on top. The final score was 132-102 and the highest scoring game for the Lopes this season.
"It was great to get some of the guys into the game who did not get a chance to play last Saturday," said Fenerci. "It was exciting to see that we scored the most points in the season, but we also gave up the most which I was not very happy about."
"I believe this is the best start to a season the Lopes men's basketball had in the history. I am very proud of the determination and togetherness our team put this semester. We wish everyone happy holidays and look forward to seeing more fans at our games in the second semester," Coach Fenerci added.
Andre Hardy led in scoring with 18 points and added six rebounds, while Wayne Stewart added 17 points and seven rebounds. Other big contributors included Isaiah Martin (16 points, eight rebounds), Tugay Balyan (15 points, seven rebounds), Justin Holliday (13 points), Michael Skinner (11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists), and Ryley Stewart (10 points).
The Lopes are now on holiday break and will be back in action on Saturday, January 7, when they travel to Sterling, Colorado, to play Northeastern Junior College. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm.
For more news and score updates, follow the team on Twitter: @LopesBasketball.