The Odessa College men's basketball team will head into the holiday break on a winning note.
The No. 9 Wranglers managed to slog their way through a tough contest against New Mexico Military Institute and picked up the victory 57-44 on Saturday at the OC Sports Center.
OC (12-2, 2-0 WJCAC) held off a few runs from a slow-paced Broncos' squad, whose deliberate offense routinely ran 15 to 20 seconds off the shot clock before getting into their play.
Wranglers' head coach Tra Arnold knew the type of game it would be with an opponent like NMMI and his OC squad came out ready to defend.
"There weren't very many possessions. They came out and tried to shorten the shot clock, so they could have a chance to at the end of the game," Arnold said. "A win like that where it's 13 points in a game like that is really like a 25-point win just because of the flow and the way the game was going."
The Wranglers held the Broncos to just 28 percent shooting from the field in the contest, including 24 percent in the first half as OC established an early lead.
OC jumped out by as many as 10 in the first half before the Broncos cut the Wrangler lead to five at the halftime break.
NMMI fought back to take their only lead of the game at 33-32 with 12 minutes left after a slow start from the Wranglers led to just five points in eight minutes.
OC had an answer though and responded immediately with a 9-0 run and held the Broncos off the scoreboard for nearly six minutes to open a 41-33 advantage.
From there, the Wranglers were able to find the plays they needed down the stretch to secure the victory.
"We found a group there at the end where everybody was rebounding and we made just enough plays to win," Arnold said. "They made it tough, because we want to get out and run. But I'm happy with the guys. I know some of the guys are looking to go home in a couple days. It's been a long four months as practice."
Marlon Hunter led OC with 17 points on 7 of 13 from the field. Jeremiah Livingston added 13 points, six rebounds and a team-high four assists. Tyree Robinson had 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocks in the win.
"It feels good and this was something we needed to do," Robinson said. "We had to stay locked in and keep working on the boards. I was just trying to help my team anyway possible. If I have to block six shots then so be it."
NMMI didn't have a player in double figures on the score sheet. Maurice Coleman, Logan Santiago and DeMarco Enoch finished with eight points each in the loss.
OC won't have another game until the new year when it takes on the Odessa Wizards on Jan. 6. The Wranglers will return to WJCAC play on Jan. 9 when they travel to No. 5 South Plains in a matchup between the two highest ranked teams in the conference.
Many of the players will head back home over the break, but the coaching staff has put an emphasis on what to work on during their time away from the team.
"It's almost like you're starting over," Arnold said. "So there'll be some guys that it's a rejuvenation. At least you have a foundation of what you've been doing."
The team knows it will need to put in practice during the break and come back prepared to compete for a WJCAC title.
"We just need to stay in the gym. Go home and enjoy your family and all that, but definitely stay in the gym," Livingston said. "You can't come back a few weeks later out of shape."
Article by Joshua Perry OA