Special to The Flash from Tommy Wells
Ranger College Public Information Officer/Sports Information Director
If the Christmas holidays have left you hankering for a hunk of basketball action, Ranger College is about to deliver to you its annual holiday feast – in the form of the Region V Shoot-Out on Jan. 3-4 at the Brownwood Municipal Coliseum. In all, 14 men’s and women’s teams from the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference and the Western Junior College Athletic Conference will be in action beginning at noon on Sunday. A total of seven games will be held, concluding on Monday afternoon with four women’s games.
The tournament’s action will get under way at noon on Jan. 3 when the Hill College Rebels face off with Howard College. The Rebels enter the tournament as one of Region V’s hottest teams having won their last five games en route to upping their season record to 15-1. Hill features the region’s top scorer in Tramique Sutherland, who is averaging 19.9 points per contest.
Howard College, the 2015 Region V runner-up, comes in at 9-5.
The Hawks come in having won three of their last four games. Howard College won the recent New Mexico Military Institute Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 27-28, reeling off three straight wins.
Following the Hill-Howard matchup on the first day will be a showdown between Weatherford College and New Mexico Junior College, beginning at 2 p.m.
NMJC, behind the lead of guard Tyler Blount, enters the game at 10-5 overall. Blount ranks among the top scorers in Region V, averaging 15.6 points per game.
From there, one of the tournament’s two marquee men’s games will take to the court. Beginning at 4 p.m., McLennan Community College and Odessa College will face off in a matchup of nationally-ranked squads.
McLennan heads into the contest sporting a 13-1 record. The 12th-ranked Highlanders have won five of their last six outings and are one of the nation’s most explosive teams, averaging 91.7 points per game. As a squad, McLennan has four players scoring into double figures, including Jerami Grace and Shannon Bogues, who are tallying 15.7 and 15.6 points per game, respectively.
McLennan’s lone setback of the season was a 98-92 loss to Southern University-Shreveport on Nov. 18.
Odessa College, 12-2 overall, comes into the game ranked No. 23 nationally.
Devin Davis leads the OC attack averaging 15.7 points per night.
The tournament’s other marquee game will get under way at 6 p.m. when Ranger College squares off against Midland College. The game will mark the first outing by former Big 12 and SEC Coach of the Year Billy Clyde Gillispie in Brown County as the head coach of Ranger College. Gillispie took over the Rangers’ program in March after ending a short retirement.
Ranger College has gotten off to a quick start under Gillispie, who previously coached at Kentucky, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, has the team unbeaten on the floor this season. The Rangers, 10-4 overall, have won all 14 of their games this season, but were forced to forfeit four games due to an administrative oversight.
One of the region’s top defensive squads, Ranger College is led by Jordan Geist and Kris Clyburn.
Prior to forfeiting its first four games, Ranger College had been ranked as high as No. 16 in the NJCAA polls.
Midland College comes into the contest at 13-2.
The final game of the first day of action will feature high-scoring Temple College facing Western Texas College. Temple, now 13-1, has four players averaging double figures offensively, including Shawn Gulley, who is notching 19.2 points per night.
Keyunta Watkins (17.5), Joe Jackson (16.1) and Ray Edwards (13.1) also average double figures nightly for the Leopards.
Western Texas comes into the nightcap at 8-6.
On Monday, Region V’s women’s team will take center stage with two games.
Beginning at 4 p.m., Weatherford College will face off against 16th-ranked Odessa College.
One of three WJCAC women’s teams to be ranked nationally, Odessa comes into the game at 10-3.
New Mexico Junior College and Midland College ranked No. 9 and No. 11, respectively.
The Ranger College women will close out the two-day showcase starting at 6 p.m. when they face off with the Howard College Lady Hawks.
Ranger, led by the high-scoring antics of Kirsten Fellows and Mariah Merriweather, comes into the game with a 5-3 record. All three of the Lady Rangers’ losses this season have come to Howard County colleges, including two to Howard College.
The Lady Hawks, 11-4, defeated Ranger College by a 70-52 clip on Nov. 18 and a 57-47 clip on Nov. 23.
NJCAA Region V Shoot-Out
Sunday, Jan. 3
Noon – Hill vs, Howard College
2 p.m. – Weatherford College vs. NMJC
4 p.m. – McLennan CC vs. Odessa College
6 p.m. – Ranger College vs. Midland College
8 p.m. – Temple College vs. Western Texas
Monday, Jan. 4
4 p.m. – Weatherford College vs. Odessa College
6 p.m. – Ranger College vs. Howard College