The Odessa College Wranglers have had to make some second-half comebacks in the last couple of weeks of the WJCAC men's basketball race.
None was more improbable than Monday's 67-63 victory over Clarendon College at the OC Sports Center.
Odessa College (16-4 overall, 5-1 WJCAC) trailed by as much as 18 points during a horrid first half, by 16 at halftime and by 12 with six minutes remaining. The Wranglers outscored the Bulldogs 22-6 the rest of the way, taking their first lead of the night at 63-62 on Tavon Jones' layup with 27.9 seconds left and holding on to move into sole possession of second place in the WJCAC standings.
"We showed we've got some guts tonight," Odessa College coach Kris Baumann said. "We played with some guts. We didn't quit.
"I thought the crowd kept us in it. The crowd was terrific. The kept cheering on the kids and kept motivating the kids, and the kids stayed in it."
Clarendon College (13-7, 4-2) was led by Edwon Brady with 17 points and Ellis Jefferson with 16.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 16-3 lead in the first 10 minutes, hitting four of their 10 3-pointers, as Odessa College made just one field goal, a 3-pointer by Parker at the 16:20 mark of the first half.
The Wranglers were just 5-of-23 from the floor in the half in addition to committing 17 turnovers.
"When we're playing that bad, the best thing to do in those situations is to come together and play harder," said Odessa College guard James Reese, who scored nine points. "That's exactly what we did. We just stitched up together and played harder."
Clarendon College, meanwhile, finished the half 7-of-18 from 3-point range to take a 35-19 halftime lead.
"(Clarendon's) tough to guard because the play four perimeter guys and they shot the ball really well," Baumann said. "They had a good game plan. It was just one of those games.
"Sometimes you're not going to play great and you've got to find a way to win. I was happy we were playing at home. Realistically, we all know that we've got to play a lot better than that if we're going to be successful in this league."
Clarendon College took its largest lead at 33-15 on Tyreek Price's 3-pointer with 1:05 left in the first half and led double digits most of the second half. Odessa College got within nine at 48-39 on Davante Carter's basket with 9:40 left in the second half, but the Bulldogs outscored the Wranglers 9-6 over the next 3:36, taking a 57-45 lead on a pair of free throws by P.J. Corbin with 6:04 to go.
Odessa College slowly chipped away, cutting the margin to six points twice before Anthony Johnson's 3-pointer with 1:28 left made it 62-59. Jalen Hawkins hit a pair of free throws 19 seconds later to make it a one-point game.
On Clarendon College's next possession, Dimon Carrigan blocked Corbin's shot, Reese chased down the rebound on the baseline and got the ball ahead to Daniels, who dished off to Jones for the go-ahead basket. It was Jones' only shot of the game.
"To be honest, I didn't even think Jawaun Daniels saw me," Jones said. "He made one heck of a pass. I just wanted to reward him."
Clarendon College coach Isaac Fontenot-Amedee was charged with his second technical foul after the score and Reese hit both free throws to make it 65-62. The Wranglers still had to make two more defensive stops before Desmond Johnson sealed it with a pair of free throws with 1.7 seconds left.
ARTICLE BY- SAM WALLER:ODESSA AMERICAN
PHOTO BY- TONY VENEGAS:ODESSA AMERICAN