South Plains faces stiff test from Clarendon in battle of WJCAC contenders

This week was South Plains College’s turn to have the Monday open date in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference basketball schedule. With a week between games, SPC men’s coach Steve Green devoted the extra time to drilling his players on defense.
Opponents’ breaking down the Texans and getting them out of position has been a problem this season.
“Is ‘porous’ a word?’” Green asked Wednesday. “I think it’s gotten a little better, though. I think we’ve kind of made some changes this last week in how we … Everything we’ve done is to try to ramp up the aggression.”
How well the Texans can apply what they’ve learned from the emphasis on defense gets put to a quick test. Clarendon College (14-6, 4-2) visits South Plains (13-5, 5-1) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the back end of a women’s/men’s doubleheader that starts with the Lady Texans (14-7, 1-4) hosting the Lady Bulldogs (18-3, 2-3) at 5:45 p.m.
South Plains prevailed last week over a pair of 13-win teams — 69-58 at New Mexico Junior College, 78-76 at home against Western Texas — to stay within one-half game of the WJCAC leader, No. 8 Odessa College (17-2, 6-0).
South Plains goes to Odessa on Monday for what shapes up as a showdown for the conference lead, but the Texans first need to take care of business against Clarendon, the league’s third-place team.
The Bulldogs’ style could give the Texans problems.
“They’re relatively small,” Green said. “They have a couple of guys who kind of share the (center position), and then the rest of them are face-up players. They’ve got a couple of really, really good shooters.”
Reece Brooks, a 5-foot-9 sophomore, averages 18.6 points per game for Clarendon, and he gets plenty of help from 6-5 sophomore Xavier Trent (15.4 ppg), 6-2 freshman Ellis Jefferson (14.5) and 6-5 freshman David “Ace” Carter (9.9). Brooks and Trent are No. 3 and No. 8 among the WJCAC’s top scorers.
The Bulldogs average 11 of 30 per game from the 3-point line.
“They’re going to launch a lot of shots from different area codes,” Green said. “So you’ve got to get out on them and then also try to contain them.”
In South Plains’ two wins last week, forwards Isaiah Maurice and Raymond Doby each had a double-double at New Mexico Junior College, and Texas Tech signee Deshawn Corprew scored 27 points against Western Texas while Ben Perez hit the game-winning free throws with 3.5 seconds left.
Corprew’s 27 points matched the season high he set Dec. 30 in a loss to Indian Hills. The 6-6, 216-pound redshirt freshman averages 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds.
“I think he’s starting to play a little better, a little more consistent,” Green said. “I think he’s really tried to pick it up on the other end. We’ve been harping on him about focus and effort on the one end of the floor — defensive rebounding, drive the ball to the rim. ‘The whole time you’re on the floor, be aggressive. Be important to what’s going on.’”
South Plains’ scoring leader Jordan Brangers (16.3) returned to action Thursday after being suspended for two games, though he was scoreless in 19 minutes on 0-for-5 shooting.
Clarendon College (18-3, 2-3) at South Plains College (14-7, 1-4), 5:45 p.m.
No. 2 Lubbock Christian University (17-1, 6-0) at Newman (13-7, 4-2), 6 p.m.
Southwestern Christian (7-9, 3-7) at No. 8 Wayland Baptist (14-3, 8-2), 6 p.m.
Clarendon College (14-6, 4-2) at South Plains College (13-5, 5-1), 7:30 p.m.
Lubbock Christian University (8-10, 4-3) at Newman (8-10, 4-3), 8 p.m.
Southwestern Christian (10-9, 4-6) at No. 11 Wayland Baptist (14-4, 7-3), 8 p.m.


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