Soares, De La Cruz earn WJCAC All-Conference honors

Soares, De La Cruz earn WJCAC All-Conference honors

LEVELLAND — After a second place in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference and advancing to the Region V title game last weekend in Abilene, Rivaldo Soares and Freddie De La Cruz were named to the WJCAC Men's Basketball All-Conference Team.

Anchoring the Texans to a 22-9 record this season including a 12-4 mark in league place, 6-foot-5 freshman Rivaldo Soares was named an all-Conference selection as well as the Freshman Player of the Year, leading the Texans in scoring with 15.4 points per game and shooting over 42 percent from the floor on the year.

Soares has scored in double figures 24 times this season, most notably, a 24-point outing in the Texans' 72-65 victory over No. 6 Salt Lake in the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout finals. Soares ranks in the top 25 in the country in points per game (18th) and ranks 16th in the NJCAA to date with 462 total points.

De La Cruz joins Soares on the all-Conference team as the 6-foot-7 forward from the Dominican Republic averaged 15.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in league play this season. De La Cruz has scored in double figures 11 times this season, leading the Texans with nine double-doubles on the year and has scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games.

De La Cruz proved to be one of the top interior players in the country down the stretch, as he ranks in the top 25 with 70 offensive rebounds (16th), 140 defensive rebounds (18th), and ranks 15th nationally with 210 total rebounds on the year.

Freshman Benjamin Bayela earned honorable mention honors in the WJCAC, averaging 12.4 points per game in league play while shooting over 38 percent from distance. Bayela has scored in double figures in 18 games and has netted double figures in the Texans last six outings. The 6-foot-6 product from France tallied 22 points in the Texans 72-56 win over Collin County in their opening contest at the Region Tournament and recorded a season-high 25 points against Coastal Bend College on Nov. 16.

South Plains will make its way to Hutch as the No. 18 seed and will take on the No. 15 seed Coffeyville at 2 p.m. on March 16 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena as they look to capture the program's fourth national championship.