The Casper College men's basketball team was clicking on all cylinders early in its home opener Thursday. The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 17-4 lead and pushed the margin to 19 points (64-55) midway through the second half before holding on for an 81-77 victory against Northeastern Junior College.
The T-Birds (1-1) still led by double digits with 3 minutes, 34 seconds remaining when 6-foot-8 sophomore Peter Turay scored at the rim. But he missed the ensuing free throw and then two more on the enduing possession to give the Plainsmen life. NJC scored on a tip-in and a drive to the basket before Traizon Byrd pushed the margin to 77-68 with a runner across the lane with 1:53 on the clock.
NJC answered with a 7-0 run, capped by a steal and dunk, to make it 77-75 with 23.9 seconds remaining. The T-Birds were able to ice the game at the charity stripe as Dathan Satchell and Dion Ford both made two at the line. The Plainsmen got a breakaway dunk at the buzzer for the final margin.
Freshman point guard John Hart led a balanced Casper College scoring attack with 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He was joined in double figures by Satchell (14), Ford (12), Trey Boston (11) and Nigel Marshall (10). Ford also grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds while Hart dished out six assists.
The T-Birds return to action Wednesday when they host Western Nebraska Community College at Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. following the Casper College-Western Nebraska CC women's game.
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN