by NICK ALVARADO//Sports Editor
The South Plains College men’s basketball team showed that they deserve to be ranked among the top five teams in the nation after picking up a pair of quality victories to open the new season.
In the final MSS East-West Challenge in Lewisville, the Texans were unselfish with passes as they recorded 25 total assists that led them to a 110-74 blowout victory on Nov. 6 against Trinity Valley Community College, the defending national quarterfinalist from a year ago. The Cardinals also held the third spot in the National Junior College Athletic Association preseason poll.
Four of the five Texan starters finished with double-digit scoring, led by sophomore guard Roberto Gallinat with 20 points, sophomore guard Jordan Brangers with 18, and Josh Webster and Grantham Gillard with 17 points. Sophomore guard Justice Green came off the bench and scored 11 points.
Before the season began, SPC men’s basketball head coach Steve Green emphasized that defensive rebounding would be a key to victory. It proved to be a key stat as the Texans picked up 23 defensive boards against Trinity Valley.
In the first game of the MSS East-West Challenge, the Texans toppled Navarro College, 85-67, on Nov. 5. Leading the way was Green with 19 points.
Navarro College’s D’Angelo Hunter pitched in 19 points for the Bulldogs. Other leading scorers for the Texans were Gillard, who shot 66 percent behind the arc, with 14 points. Sophomore forward Ibrahima Diagne scored 12 points, collected eight boards and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line. Gallinat pitched in 11 points, shooting 40 percent from the field.
The Texan shooting cooled down as the team shot 41 percent from the field. The Texans continued to share the ball well, which played a factor in the victory. The Texans recorded 17 assists, compared to six for Navarro.
In the first home game of the season, the Texans were in cruise control for the entire game, overpowering the Wayland Baptist JV squad in a 136-38 victory on Nov. 2 at Texan Dome.
In a game that featured dunks, it also showcased how lethal the Texan transition offense can be.
The Pioneers did not record a single assist during the first half. They finished with one assist that was credited to Grant Baker.
Gallinat found his range early, shooting 87.5 percent from the floor and 80 percent from three-point range and tossing in 19 points in the first half. The Texans started their dominance on the defensive glass, collecting 25 defensive boards among their 33 rebounds in the first half.
The Pioneer JV squad piled on 14 more turnovers in the second half, and the Texans made the most of those extra possessions.
Gallinat finished with 25 points, collecting five boards and shooting 75 percent from the field. Freshman forward Jahill Tripp pitched in 16 points and seven rebounds, shooting 80 percent from the field. Gillard finished with a double-double, recording 16 points and 11 rebounds, along with three assists and a 62.5 shooting percentage.
With a 3-0 record to start the season, the Texans will entertain Northwest Kansas Tech on Nov. 15, before hosting the Texan Classic on Nov. 18-Nov. 19. They also will travel to Collin County to face Bossier Parish on Nov. 25 and Murray State (Okla.), on Nov. 26. The first conference game will be at Midland College on Nov. 30.