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The Casper College men's basketball team lived up to its billing Wednesday night, overcoming a slow start to rout Central Wyoming College 118-72 in the Region IX North opener for both teams.

After Darius Guinn's 3-pointer pulled the Rustlers within five points at 31-26 midway through the first half, the 10th-ranked Thunderbirds went to work.

Keiron Goodwin got things started with a 3-pointer from the wing. Following a defensive stop, Wilfried Likayi made it an 11-point game with an old-fashioned three-point play. Another defensive stop resulted in a James Hampshire putback dunk at the other end. Amin Adamu then finished off the T-Birds' 12-0 run with a steal and a breakaway dunk and a transition layup.

The 4-minute onslaught gave Casper College (16-1, 1-0) a 43-26 lead and Central Wyoming never got closer than 14 points the rest of the game.

"I thought we played with a lot of energy," Casper College head coach Dan Russell said. "Even when the shots weren't falling early, we were playing with a lot of effort."

The T-Birds led 59-34 at the half.

The Rustlers opened the second half with back-to-back triples from former Wind River standout Taylor Tidzump. But the T-Birds answered with two free throws from Adamu and six consecutive points from Isaac Bonton on a 3-pointer and an and-one to retake control.

Bonton, who came into the game averaging a team-best 19.8 points per game, picked up two quick fouls and played just 6 minutes in the first half. The 6-foot-3 sophomore guard made up for his absence in the second half, though, scoring 20 of his game-high 26 points.

Bonton had plenty of company in double figures as Broc Finstuen and Adamu added 19 apiece, Likayi pitched in 18, Hampshire finished with 10 and Philip Pepple Jr. had 10.

For the Rustlers, David Simental led the way with 17 points, followed by Jacob Smith with 13 and Guinn with 11.

The game got a little out of control in the second half when Central Wyoming head coach Brad Schmit picked up two technical fouls and was ejected. Later in the half, the Rustlers' Jerroda Briscoe was whistled for consecutive technicals and also was ejected.

Casper College shot 61.9 percent (39 of 63) for the game while limiting Central Wyoming to 42.4 percent (28 of 66) from the field. In addition, the T-Birds nearly doubled the Rustlers off the glass, out-rebounding them 47-25.

The T-Birds return to the court Saturday when they host Laramie County Community College for a 4 p.m. tip-off.

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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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