Wrangler Men defeat South Plains 78-74 in OT, Claim WJCAC Title

Tony Vengas:OA
Tony Vengas:OA

It was like déjà vu all over again.

The last time that the Odessa College men's basketball team faced off against South Plains College, the Wranglers were able to pull off a win over the Texans in overtime on the road.

It was a different day and different venue but it was the same result.

Odessa College rallied from a 13-point second half deficit and Aquarn Butler hit a running jumper with 39.1 seconds to go in the extra session to give the Wranglers the lead and eventually a 78-74 victory over the Texans Thursday night at the OC Sports Center.

The victory clinched the outright WJCAC regular season title for Odessa College (25-5 overall, 14-2 conference) as well as the No. 1 seed in the Region V Tournament next week in Abilene.

"The shot clock was running down and Coach Baumann said I had to make a play," Butler said of his go-ahead shot. "It just so happened that I made the shot."

"We beat a really good basketball team tonight because that game could have gone either way," Odessa College head coach Kris Baumman said. "I was really happy with our guys and I'm really proud of how they played and represented their school all season long."

Like the Wranglers had done several times this season, they had to find a way to rally.

The first half was a back-and-forth battle as neither team had a lead greater than five points.

However, South Plains (23-5, 12-4) was able to find a burst offensively in the last five minutes.

Up 28-27, the Texans closed the half on 15-5 run, capped off a three-quarter court 3-pointer at the buzzer by Trevin Wade, who finished with 13 points.

Gaige Prim led the Texans with 21 points and 13 rebounds and Trey Wade had 15.

The Wranglers were down 43-32 at the break but they knew they still had a chance.

"Coach Baumann just told us we had to dig a little deeper," said sophomore guard James Reese, who led Odessa College with 19 points. "We weren't playing that bad but we just had to pick the intensity up to get the win."

The early stages of the second half saw Odessa College close the gap with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit back to four.

The Wranglers were able to eventually take a 51-50 lead with 13:02 left in the second half off a Reese 3-pointer.

The lead got up to 53-50 before an 8-0 Texans run pushed the lead back to five for South Plains.

Odessa College was able to stay within five at 71-66 with under two minutes remaining before a Jalen Hawkins 3-pointer cut the deficit to two with 1:09 to go.

That's where the defense took over.

A Jawaun Daniels steal led to a fast break opportunity for the Wranglers and they took advantage as Dimon Carrigan threw down a two-handed dunk to tie the game at 71.

On the ensuing possession, Carrigan blocked a shot to keep the game tied as Odessa College was able to get the ball back with a chance to win the game in regulation.

The Wranglers nearly converted as Butler's 3-pointer as time expired rolled in and out to send the game to an extra five minutes.

It was a defensive struggle in overtime but the Wranglers were able to make some timely shots.

After making the go-ahead jumper, Butler hit two more free throws and Reese would hit one of his own to seal the game away.

"I thought we played great defense down the stretch," Baumann said. "There were a lot of different plays from Aquarn's shot to Dimon's block that really helped us.

"We're not done yet since we have to go play in the regional tournament and hopefully we can get a chance to win that and get a chance to play in the national tournament."

ARTICLE & PHOTO BY TONY VENGAS:ODESSA AMERICAN