League play has arrived for the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco men’s basketball team.
Competing in a wide open Western Junior College Athletic Conference, the goal is always to defend the home court at all costs.
Led by 23 points from Chris Bready, the Broncos overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half to defeat the Frank Phillips College Plainsmen 89-85 Wednesday night at the Godfrey Athletic Center.
One crucial statistic for the Broncos was keeping the turnovers down to eight for the entire ballgame.
NMMI head coach Sean Schooley credits his hard working staff made up of assistants Troy Coleman, Kennedy Miller and Gabe Hilt.
“We did our thing where we had under 10 turnovers and close to 50 rebounds,” said Schooley. “We shared the ball pretty good. Everybody who got in contributed and did well.”
The Broncos held a five-point lead with 11:41 in the first half after a bucket from Jordan Nelson.
A trey from Jude Tapia and a two-pointer by Jovan Savic tied up the game at 21-all before NMMI regained the lead after a three-pointer by Isaiah Williams.
The game went on to be tied twice more.
DJ Richardson landed a shot from beyond the arc to give the Plainsmen a six-point lead with under two minutes to go in the half. Frank Phillips led by as much as seven until Williams landed another shot in the paint to cut the deficit to five at halftime.
Williams led NMMI at the break with 11 points while Latik Murphy had 10.
With 16:24 in the second half, Malik Whitaker went to the line, making one of two free throws, which gave the Plainsmen the 10-point lead.
A clutch three-pointer from Bready cut the deficit down to three. Williams and Amiri Crowder fueled the rally by making some big shots in the paint. Uros Stikovic grabbed an offensive rebound and finished it with a layup to chisel the Plainsmen’s lead to one with 14:36 on the clock.
Frank Phillips (9-6, 0-1) then surged to an eight-point lead.
Two three-pointers from Williams and some key free throws made by Murphy tied up the game at 65-all with 10 minutes to go.
A technical foul was then called on the Frank Phillips coach during a heated moment that helped the Broncos take a two-point lead after Bready made a pair of free throws. The Plainsmen later took a four-point lead.
Nadjrick Peat and Bready landed some key shots to flip the tables, giving NMMI an 80-77 lead with 4:40 remaining. Richardson hit a three to cut the deficit to one, but the Broncos answered back with another three by Murphy.
Entering the double bonus, NMMI got some crucial free throws from Bready that helped it gain a four-point lead to eventually close out the Plainsmen.
Bready finished 10 for 11 from the charity stripe with six rebounds and two assists. Murphy added 22 points and six boards while Williams tallied 19 points, four assists and two blocks.
NMMI narrowly out-rebounded the Plainsmen, 46-45. The Broncos shot 18 of 23 from the free throw line while also tallying 12 assists.
“We started off slow this season. We got big goals and we’re not going to reach the top unless we take the conference,” Bready said. “This team is very special. It’s crazy.
“From top to bottom, guys can play. Even our redshirt Daniel Xibille can play. I love this team. As long as we come each and every day and continue to work and get better, the sky’s the limit.”
NMMI (7-5, 1-0 after Wednesday’s win) was scheduled to travel to Levelland, Texas Saturday to take on South Plains College. Results from that contest were not available by press time.