To stay in the hunt, the Western Oklahoma State College Pioneers need a strong start to 2018


By Ryan Lewis - ryan@altustimes.com



Rick Carpenter | Altus Times Darron Johnson (11) leads the Pioneers and the nation with 28.3 points per game. Johnson’s play this season has earned him two Region Player of the Week awards.


Troy Green (21) sinks a layup against Clarendon earlier this season. Green has become the Pioneers second option on the court, averaging 13.8 points per game.


The Western Oklahoma State College Pioneers basketball team finished 2017 on a two-game winning streak, but the streak was preceded by two consecutive losses to conference leaders Northern Oklahoma College Tonkawa and Redlands Community College to close out the month of November.

The two wins put them at 10-4 for the season — 0-2 in conference play — and although they have two more losses than they had at this time last season, there is something that feels a bit different about this Pioneers basketball team.

For instance, so far this season, games have been much closer. The only outright loss for Western was a 109-89 defeat to Redlands Community College. Besides that one game, the Pioneers have been within eight points of tying the game during each of their other three losses.

Two of those losses came at the hands of Clarendon, one of which was a one-point win by Clarendon in come-from-behind fashion. In that game, Clarendon erased a 14-point deficit in the final five minutes of play to steal the lead and the win. The other was a seven-point loss to Clarendon seven days prior.

A big reason for Western’s success comes from second-year point guard Darron Johnson who is averaging 28.3 points per game through eight starts. Johnson needs just one more start to be eligible for the leaderboard. Barring a meltdown, Johnson can become the top scorer in the nation as early as Jan. 8 when the Pioneers travel to Wilburton to take on the 8-1 Eastern Oklahoma State College Mountaineers.

During his incredible run, Johnson is shooting 47.8 percent from the field and nearly 50 percent from the three-point line. He has also knocked down 80 percent of his free throws.

His play has earned him two of the six Region II Division I Player of the Week awards. The most recent honor was earned after Johnson shot 60.4 percent from the field and 69.2 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 33.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.

While his play has been nothing short of remarkable, no one player can do it all alone and that’s where Troy Green comes in.

The sophomore forward is averaging 13.8 points per game on 50 percent shooting. Additionally, Green is a force to be reckoned with on the glass, pulling down a team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game.

Three times, Green has eclipsed the 20-point mark this season and four times, he has earned a double-double with double digit scoring and rebounds.

Right behind Johnson and Green are Jeshon Jones, who is averaging 8.8 points per game, and Devontae Bynes, who is averaging 8.5 points per game.

For most of the season, the Pioneers have relied on the three-point shot, converting 87 of their 245 three-point attempts.

As a team, the Pioneers are shooting 35.5 percent from three and 44.3 percent from the field while averaging 83.8 points per game. Western is also averaging 36.4 rebounds and 12.6 assists per game.

Although the Pioneers are 0-2 in conference play, the team needs just two wins to climb into third place in the conference, something Western can do within the first two games of 2018, but the journey to the top will be a tough one.

After taking on the 8-1 Mountaineers, the Pioneers will then take on Connors State College (13-2) before hosting Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (10-4).

The Pioneers will need to begin 2018 strong to stay in the hunt but the team has showed it is more than capable of playing with some of the toughest teams in Region 2 basketball.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

Rick Carpenter | Altus Times Darron Johnson (11) leads the Pioneers and the nation with 28.3 points per game. Johnson’s play this season has earned him two Region Player of the Week awards.
http://www.altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_WOSC-Men-620171228152450214.jpgRick Carpenter | Altus Times Darron Johnson (11) leads the Pioneers and the nation with 28.3 points per game. Johnson’s play this season has earned him two Region Player of the Week awards.

Troy Green (21) sinks a layup against Clarendon earlier this season. Green has become the Pioneers second option on the court, averaging 13.8 points per game.
http://www.altustimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/web1_WOSC-vs.-Clarendon-Men-320171228152456798.jpgTroy Green (21) sinks a layup against Clarendon earlier this season. Green has become the Pioneers second option on the court, averaging 13.8 points per game.

By Ryan Lewis

ryan@altustimes.com

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.

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