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Casper College Bball

Casper College's Antun Maricevic shoots against Miles Community College during their game Wednesday at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym in Casper.

The Casper College men’s basketball team that takes the floor Saturday against Western Wyoming Community College will bear little resemblance to the team that was riding a six-game winning streak three weeks ago.

Since then, the Thunderbirds (17-8, 5-4 Region IX North) have lost starting center Octavion Corley for the year to a head injury, sophomore guard Damian Wilson is no longer on the team and freshman forward Zion Tordoff has played limited minutes as he tries to play through a torn meniscus.

Those three combined to average 25.7 points per game and provided the T-Birds with some depth.

“We’ve got some guys who are having to play a ton of minutes,” Casper College head coach Dan Russell said, “but that’s not an excuse. We have to bring better effort.”

Since winning their first three sub-region games the T-Birds have dropped four of six, including a 71-62 loss to Miles Community College on Wednesday, in which they had 22 turnovers.

“Our guard play has to be better,” Russell said. “We have struggled with our decision-making at times and we’re not going to win too many games with 22 turnovers.

“But our guys are still out here competing, so I give them credit for that. We’ve responded well in practice this week, so we’ll see if that carries over into Saturday.”

While winning the sub-region is no longer on the table, Casper College still is in position to host a Region IX tournament game if it finishes in the top four. Currently, the T-Birds are tied with WWCC (12-11, 5-4) for the fourth spot one game back of Central Wyoming College.

“This is a big game for us,” Russell said. “Western is in a similar situation, so we’ve just got to figure out a way to turn things around.”

The T-Birds won 69-66 at Western back on Jan. 17 behind 16 points from sophomore point guard Chase Winchester and 10 from sophomore big man Antun Maricevic.

Maricevic has been playing with a banged-up knee, but still leads the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game. Freshman guard Nolan Bertain (13.5), Winchester (13.0) and freshman forward Wilfried Likayi (10.0) are also averaging double-digit points.

The key for the T-Birds down the stretch — they play four of their final five regular season games at home — is getting some contributions off the bench.

“This is a tough stretch for us,” Russell said, “but we’ve got to adopt a next-man-up mentality.”

Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN


Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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