It’s late in the junior college basketball season, and most teams are grinding it out, in survival mode, dealing with bruises and fatigue.
Despite all the obstacles, the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco men’s basketball team continues to press on.
On Monday night, the Broncos put together a solid team victory over the Frank Phillips College Plainsmen, 79-71, at the Godfrey Athletic Center.
“At this time of the year, everybody’s banged up and you’re shorthanded,” said NMMI head coach Sean Schooley. “You’re trying to fight through it and everything. They fought through it.
“Credit Frank Phillips … they kept coming. I think at this time of the year it’s a lot of mental fatigue along with the physical. We just did what we had to do to win. I’m proud of them.”
The Broncos (13-12, 5-8) trailed by three early on, but they later took a five-point lead after Jermane Carter made a shot in the paint on an assist by Christion Dejean with 11:39 on the clock.
Frank Phillips kept the pressure on NMMI all night, taking uncontested three-pointers and capitalizing on each shot.
Holding on to a one-point lead with 4:05 left until halftime, NMMI’s Jonah Chavez knocked down a clutch three-pointer.
Carter made two shots in the paint late in the first half to help extend NMMI’s lead to seven points at the break.
The Broncos shot 53% from the field in the first half while outrebounding the Plainsmen, 26-14.
Early in the second half, Frank Phillips’ Jalen Collins knocked down a three to give his team a 45-42 lead. NMMI answered later on with a three-pointer by Dejean to give themselves a four-point lead with 15:49 to go.
Frank Phillips (14-14, 3-11) tied the game for the fifth time. NMMI immediately called a timeout to regroup.
From that point on, the Broncos’ offense kicked it into high gear as Dejean made three three-pointers to give NMMI its largest lead of the game at 10.
The game then got out of hand after the Plainsmen’s head coach was handed a technical with 15 seconds left on the clock.
After the drama, Carter got a steal and finished it with a layup to put NMMI ahead by 10, once again.
Collins led all scorers with 23 points and six rebounds while D.J. Richardson added 18 points and six assists for Frank Phillips.
Carter finished with 22 points, five rebounds and two steals to lead the Broncos. Dejean chipped in with 14 points, three assists and five boards while John Mapiou had 11 points, two assists and five rebounds.
Jeremiah Barr contributed 10 points and a team-high five assists. Furaha Cadeaux de Dieu grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds.
NMMI shot 6 of 11 from the charity stripe and 50.7% from the field. It also won the battle on the glass, outrebounding the Plainsmen, 44-35.
“It felt great,” Carter said about the win. “Everyone played their hardest. We got most of the 50-50 balls. We were having fun out there … that was the main part.
“Final mentality is trying to get these next three wins, see if we have a fighter’s chance of getting to the playoffs. Once we play together, no one can stop us,” Carter said.
The Broncos have three games remaining in the regular season as they travel to Western Texas College at 6:30 p.m. CST Thursday — they are two games back of fourth-place Odessa College.