Just in case anyone was wondering, Odessa College does still play women’s basketball.
The Lady Wranglers return from a 10-day layoff at 5:45 tonight when they visit Midland College for a key Western Junior College Athletic Conference game at the Chaparral Center.
Odessa College (16-7 overall, 4-4 WJCAC) hasn’t played since a 64-53 victory over Frank Phillips College on Feb. 1. The hiatus was caused by a scheduling quirk in which the Odessa College men’s and women’s teams had an open date followed by a men’s game against New Mexico Military Institute in the same week.
“It’s just the way it works,” Lady Wranglers coach Ara Baten said. “I know people have had this in the past. It just is what it is.”
The situation is not all that unusual with half the WJCAC teams having extended breaks in the schedule. Conference leader New Mexico Junior College has endured the same stretch without a game as Odessa College. Midland College was idle from a Jan. 11 game at Odessa College until Jan. 22, and will be off until Feb. 22 following Monday’s game. Western Texas College was off between a Jan. 25 game at Frank Phillips College and a Feb. 5 trip to Howard College.
Baten said the situation can be good or bad, but the Lady Wranglers have spent the past week taking advantage of the break.
“The positive part of it is we get some time to take a few days off here, get some kids rested up,” he said. “I’ve got some kids who play a lot of minutes, so it’s good for them.
“I think the negative is you just get into a routine and get comfortable with the routine. You play Monday and Thursday. You know what to expect on Tuesday. You know what to expect on Friday. It gets you out of that routine a little bit.”
There’s also the matter of trying to maintain momentum through the break. Odessa College has won three in a row to climb from last in the standings to fourth. The Lady Wranglers enter Monday a game back of Midland College (13-10, 6-4) in the conference standings, but are just a half-game ahead of fifth-place Clarendon College and a game in front of sixth-place Howard College in the race for a berth in the NJCAA Region 5 tournament.
“I think every game is different, every opponent’s a little different,” Baten said. “You can’t worry too much about that. I don’t worry too much about that.
“We’ve got our hands full with Midland on Monday. That’s been our entire focus. We’ve just tried to figure out the best way to play against those guys.”
Tanaka Gapare leads Odessa College in scoring (11.1 points per game) and rebounding (8.0). Shannon Dozier (10.6 ppg) and Chinna Fair (10.2) also average double figures in scoring with Fair also posting a team-high 2.8 assists per game. Leticia Soares adds 8.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
In the men’s game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Odessa College (21-2, 10-0) looks to move a step closer to clinching the conference title. The Wranglers hold a 2 1/2-game lead on South Plains College with six games remaining. Midland College (8-17, 4-7) is in sixth place, three games out of a regional berth.