Mustangs Wrap-Up Non-Conference Play Friday Night

Mustangs Wrap-Up Non-Conference Play Friday Night

ROCK SPRINGS – Mustang Men’s Basketball will wrap up a reasonably successful non-conference schedule this Friday night at 7 p.m. versus Impact Academy, in the team’s final game before the start of Region IX North conference play. The Mustangs head into this weekend’s action with a 10-5 record.

Region IX play begins at home for the Mustangs on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. versus Miles Community College, followed by another home game Saturday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. versus Little Big Horn College. Admission is free to all Mustang regular-season home contests.

“We try to break our season into segments so that the players don’t get overwhelmed with how long it is,” Head Coach Ryan Orton said this week. “So Friday we’ll finish one segment, with non-conference play, and we’ll start a new segment on Saturday when we get back to practice. But on Saturday, everyone is 0-0. Despite what we’ve done in the non-conference, everybody is 0-0. It’s kind of exciting.

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“The biggest thing they’ve shown me up to this point in the season is that they’re very willing to be coached, they’re a coachable group,” Orton said of his players. “They really try to do what we ask, and I think a lot of that is because we have a really solid sophomore class that’s really bought into what we’re doing, and it’s really trickled down to the freshmen. We’ve got a long way to go with improvements and things on both sides of the ball, but they’re coachable, and so they’re listening and taking that to heart.”

The Mustangs will wrap up January play with road games against conference rivals Casper College, on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at 7:30 p.m., and Gillette College, on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 5 p.m., followed by home games versus Northwest College on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m., and Sheridan College on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 4 p.m. Western heads into Region IX play at full roster strength and with no injuries.

Orton said talent in the Region IX North is as equitable as he’s ever seen it. Gillette is currently ranked #15 in the nation, and Central Wyoming College defeated fourth-ranked Salt Lake Community College, the defending NJCAA Division I national champion, in a game just before the holiday. Casper, at 10-4 this season, is expected to be as tough as usual. There are no easy wins anywhere in the Mustangs’ conference schedule, Orton said.

“I think anybody can beat anybody on any given night, home or away,” he said. “So it’s going to be important that we take care of business in conference with our home games. And then we’ve got to do the job with just being tougher mentally, to play on the road in a hostile environment. I think we had a taste of that a few times in the non-conference schedule; playing at Laramie and getting beat up pretty good was a good lesson for us. And then going to Northeastern before Christmas, we dropped that one by two, but we definitely were a lot tougher with a true road game, versus when we played Laramie about three weeks before. I think that we’re getting there, so hopefully, now it starts to come together when we get into the conference.”