Broncos down Westerners in last game at the ‘old’ armory gym

Bronco forward Muritala Mustapha with the put-back attempt after an offensive rebound in the first half of play against Western Texas College. Photo courtesy of Laura Brown.
Bronco forward Muritala Mustapha with the put-back attempt after an offensive rebound in the first half of play against Western Texas College. Photo courtesy of Laura Brown.

NMMI Sports Press

It was the last game of the season for the NMMI Bronco basketball team, and also likely the last official game in the Cahoon Armory gym before the entire building undergoes a complete renovation - with both of those as motivating factors, NMMI downed conference foe Western Texas College, 69-58.

"They played hard and played great defense tonight," said head Bronco coach Sean Schooley. "It was good for these guys to get a win at home. They've got smiles on their faces and ended on a good note."

After an initial bucket by the Westerners, NMMI retook the lead on a three-pointer by Jeremy Parsley, one of the only two sophomores on the Bronco squad.

The Institute would trail only twice more in the game, all in the first 3 minutes, before building a 13-point lead with 7:07 left, after a pair of free throws by freshman point guard Isaiah Francis.

WTC managed to cut that lead to eight before halftime, 39-31, then down to two, after a six-point run to start the second.

Shooting woes plagued the Institute squad during that second half start, with NMMI hitting just one shot out of their first 12 from the field.

But solid defense by the Broncos kept the Westerners at bay, and by the 13:05 mark, NMMI had rebuilt a double-digit lead, 49-39, with freshman forward Anthony Mensah pulling down an offensive rebound, then making good on the put-back.

 The Westerners thrice managed to make it a four-point game, but every missed shot seemed to fall into Broncos hands, with NMMI winning the 'game of boards' 52 to 42.

Coach Schooley was extremely proud of how his team finished out a tough and tumultuous year, including several coaching changes and 11 games on the road to start the season, along with high praise for several individual efforts on the night.

"You can't say enough about that kid," said Schooley about freshman guard Jermane Carter. "He's a good student, a hard worker, explosive on offense, and he's probably the best defender I've ever had. If he works on a few things in the off-season, he'll have a tremendously bright future ahead of him."

Carter finished as the top scorer for the Broncos with 18 points, and also ripped down 15 rebounds for the double-double.

Muritala Mustapha, the other soph on the squad, also came close to twofold twin-digits, finishing with seven points and nine rebounds, for his season-best performance.

"He hadn't got to play a lot all year. He came out late," said the coach of his big 6'6, 250 pound forward. "If we'd had had him for a couple of seasons, he'd be getting some looks to play at the next level, because he's so big and strong. So it was good for him to get out and play some more."

Francis also had another solid game for NMMI, dropping in 16 points and only committing a single turnover.

"Isaiah is one heck of a competitor," said Schooley. "I think he's tied for first or leading the conference in scoring. He's got some looks to go to the next level. If it's the right fit, we're going to wish him well, if not, he's got a place back in our lineup."

With the win the Broncos end their season with a 9-20 overall record and 4-12 mark in the always-tough Western Junior College Athletic Conference.

Renovation efforts to the Cahoon Armory Building, which was originally constructed in 1927-28, have already begun, but will move along at a much more rapid pace now that basketball season has ended.