With a crowd of a few dozen so quiet that the largest decibel readings at Swede Erikson Thunderbird Gym were the squeaking sneakers across the hardwood, Thursday’s game felt more like a shootaround than the Casper College men’s basketball team’s 12th game of the season.
The first 5 minutes immediately after tip-off only reinforced that notion.
The Wyoming All-Stars started 0-of-10 from the field and found themselves in a 15-0 hole before making a basket as the T-Birds cruised to a 111-59 win. It was the sixth straight win for a Casper College team that has recovered from a 3-3 start.
“It’s a good chance to get some experience and get some court time for guys who don’t play a lot or play minimal minutes,” head coach Dan Russell said. “It’s a chance to get guys some confidence and it’s as simple as seeing the ball go through the hole for some of them.”
Offense has been the key to Casper College’s resurgence from a three-game losing streak. The Thunderbirds (9-3) are averaging 88.4 points per game and have scored 80 or more in all but one game during their current winning streak.
During Thursday’s win they went on separate 19-4 and 17-1 runs in addition to the opening 15-0 spurt. The T-Birds closed the game on a 33-9 run.
Nolan Bertain and Octavion Corley tied for game-high scoring honors with 21 points apiece. Isiah Banks added 13 points and 10 assists, while Sheridan graduate Blake Godwin (15), Jackson Stent (14) and Antun Maricevic (10) all finished with double-digit points for the T-Birds.
“We got a lot of good production from some backup-type guys,” Russell said. “Isiah Banks had a double-double, Octavion had a pretty good night, Jackson Stent had a good night, so it’s good to see some of those guys get some minutes.”
The Wyoming All-Stars did go on a 15-3 run in the second half, which was disconcerting for a Casper College team whose three-game losing streak early in the season was sparked by letting a 20-point second-half lead fade away. Laramie County Community College closed that gap back on Nov. 7 to ultimately win on a buzzer beater and hand Casper College its first loss. The offensive slump carried over in losses against Salt Lake Community College (111-72) and College of Southern Idaho (87-64).
But those three losses against quality opponents have made the young T-Birds better.
“It was a good learning experience for our guys,” Russell said. “We needed to see something like that.”
Casper College plays at Western Nebraska Community College on Tuesday.