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HUTCHINSON, Kan. -The 61st annual National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament tipped off Tuesday at the Sports Arena, and it was second-ranked Chipola CC (Fla.) who was upset in opening round by SewardCounty (Kan.).
The event features five former champs: Vincennes, Paris, ThreeRivers, Northeastern, Oklahoma A&M and Indian Hills. Vincennes sets the record for most appearances with its 27th trip to Hutchinson. Six teams return from last year's tourney, including runner-up Chipola. For the second time in the last three years, there are no newcomers to the event. There are only five Top 20 teams in the field, the lowest total since 1998. But no one told the teams as we opened the day with some real barnburners. Capped by Chipola's upset loss to SewardCounty in the nightcap. With that in mind, here's a look at the opening afternoon of action:
Tuesday Afternoon Games:
No.4 SaltLake (30-3) 65 - Vincennes (28-5) 61
"It's an a.m. game, they all had a good breakfast and are playing hard," Juco expert Rick Ball of Ballstars said. "But they aren't necessary playing well."
And that was the story of the first half as both Vincennes and SaltLake struggled to make shots but created floor burns on both ends of the court. It was close from the opening tip as neither squad had more than a four-point advantage. Vincennes went into the locker room up, 25-23, on a basket by 6-foot-2 Devin Dumes.
The second half was a different story, as both clubs heated up from beyond the arc. It was a two-point game with Vincennes up, 44-42, when Dumas took over, hitting a couple quick threes and setting up 6-foot-9 Zvonko Buljan on the baseline with the pass to key an 8-2 run to go up, 54-44, with eight minutes to play. Vincennes increased that lead to eleven, 58-47, with six minutes to play.
But SaltLake wasn't done, as their inside-outside duo of 6-foot-2 LaVell Jackson and 6-foot-9 Papa Samba Guisse took over leading an 11-1 run over the next three minutes to pull within one, 59-58, with 2:55 to play. Vincennes continued to struggle from the field and scored their final two points at the line with 2:20 to play to lead 61-58. SaltLake behind Jackson's leadership scored the final seven points of the ball game, dodging a number of Vincennes threes, to win a hard fought 65-61 victory in the opener in Hutch.SaltLake denied Vincennes Devin Dumes (4 of 4 from beyond the arc) the ball down the stretch and that was a key to their pulling out the win.
SaltLake was led by 5-foot-11 shooter Brian Green with 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field, while LaVell Jackson added 13 points and four assists. Papa Samba Guisse added 10 points all in the second half and a game-high nine rebounds in the win. Vincennes' top gun was Devin Dumes with 21 points, while 6-foot-1 Rashad Reed added 10 points. Six-foot-1 Dodie Dunson and 6-foot-6 Patrick Posey chipped in with nine points each in the tough loss.
Southeastern Illinois 63, Paris 57
The noon game was another barnburner from end to end. Like our opener both clubs struggled from the field early and it was tied at 20-20 with just under four minutes to play in the opening stanza. Both teams exchanged threes and buckets around the hoop to stay knotted at 27-27 with a minute to play in the half. Paris (28-6)took the lead 29-27 heading to the locker room on a bucket by 6-foot-6 Eric Tramiel with 10 seconds to play in the half.
The second half started with a 9-0 run by Southeastern Illinois (28-6) to take a 36-27 lead with 17 minutes to play behind the baseline play of 6-foot-4 Andree Wilson. Both clubs exchanged buckets for the next couple minutes as Southeastern maintained a seven-point lead, 43-37, when Wilson picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes to play. Paris attacked inside with Tramiel and 6-foot-7 Charles Funches to close the gap to two, 43-41, with eight minutes to play. But up stepped 6-foot-3 T.J. Marion for Southeastern as he scored four points to lead a 7-1 run and open his team's lead back to 50-42 with 6:45 to play.
But Paris wasn't done as the Dragons, behind 5-foot-11 DeCarlos Riley and their big man duo, closed the gap to two points, 57-55 with 42 seconds to play. But in steps Andree Wilson to score an old fashioned three-point play to give Southeastern an insurmountable five-point lead as they hit a couple free throws to hold on to win a 63-57 decision over a relentless Paris squad.
Southeastern was led by Andree Wilson, who finished with 18 points and six rebounds despite sitting for seven minutes in the second half. He received solid support from 6-foot Monte Hudson and 6-foot-2 Kyle Oldham with 11 points each.Paris was led by Eric Tramiel with 15 points and 6 rebounds, while Charles Funches and Carlos DeRiley added 12 points a piece in the loss.
No. 19 ThreeRivers 83, Eastern Wyoming 70
Three Rivers (28-6) behind their legendary coach Gene Bess (over 1100 wins) looked to be in control early as they jumped out to a quick 16-5 lead over Eastern Wyoming, but the scrappy Rocky Mountain area club wasn't going to roll over any time soon. Eastern Wyoming (23-12) slowly chipped away at the lead to pull within four points, 34-30, with 2:04 to play in the half. But Baylor signee 6-foot-9 Artem Valov scored four points to put them back up by five, setting up a wild finish as Eastern worked for the last shot and got what they wanted when 6-foot-2 Dane Hill nailed a three at the buzzer to close the lead to 40-38 as both squads headed to the locker room.
Eastern Wyoming knotted the score at 54-54 with just under 12 minutes to play, and everyone thought we were in for our third barnburner of the afternoon. But a well-timed timeout by Bess seemed to change the momentum as Three Rivers went on a 11-1 run to open up a double-digit lead at 65-55 with 7:40 to play. The closest that Eastern Wyoming got the rest of the way was five points, 65-60, on an old fashioned three-point play by 6-foot-8 Scotty McRae. But 6-foot point guard Bryan Sherer took over for Three Rivers down the stretch to lead his team to an 83-70 victory.
Three Rivers was led by 6-foot-4 Jeff McClain with 22 points and seven rebounds. He got solid support from Artem Valov with 18 points and seven boards, while Bryan Sherer and 6-foot-5 Brandon Rogowski added 13 points each. Six-foot-11 Adam Redecker came off the bench to chip in 10 points, too. Eastern Wyoming's top gun was 6-foot-6 Casey Robinson with 20 points, while Scotty McRae added 18 points and eight rebounds. Six-foot-2 Mike Pritchett chipped in with 15 points in the loss.
Tuesday Evening Games:
Eastern Arizona 69, No. 14 Walters State 53
This one began as a game of spurts as Eastern Arizona (28-5) jumped out to an 11-6 advantage over WaltersState with Chop Tang leading the way on six points in the opening minutes capped by a monster slam. WaltersState called a timeout with 15:06 to play in the half, then came out roaring back on an 11-0 to open a 17-11 advantage led by 6-foot-8 Laquantis Stewart, who chipped in five points in the run. But as has been the case so far in the opening game of evening action, Eastern hit two straight threes to knot it at 17-17 with 8:08 to play in the half. WaltersState (31-2) went on a 6-2 run to go up four at 23-19, but it was all Eastern after that as the Arizona squad, behind eight points by 6-foot-9 Nikola Kecman, ran into the halftime up, 31-25, over WaltersState. Kecman finished the opening stanza with 15 points fro Eastern, while 6-foot-8 Michael Jenkins led WaltersState with 10 points.
The second half began with each squad exchanging quick buckets, but an errant elbow sidelined Eastern's Nikola Kecman and both clubs went into the deep freeze for the next four minutes before 6-foot-11 Tim Klewel broke the drought for Eastern on an old fashioned three-point play. They extended their lead to 46-34 before WaltersState bounced back to score seven straight and close the gap to 46-41with 9:12 to play. Six-foot Terrence Britt hit a three for WaltersState to bring it as close as it had been since the six minute-mark in the first half at 46-44 with 8:40 to play. But Kecman returned and Eastern seemed to catch fire again as the Eastern big man led an 8-0 run to go up by double digits, 63-51, with 2:02 to play. WaltersState couldn't get their threes to fall as Eastern Arizona went on to win a 69-53 decision over the club from Tennessee.
Eastern Arizona was led by Kecman with 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the field, including four straight from beyond the arc. He received solid support from 6-foot-3 Will Bynum with 14 points, while 6-foot-7 Chop Tang added 13 points in the win. WaltersState was led by 6-foot-5 Silester Martin with 12 points and 6-foot Alvin Thomas, who added 11 points.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 78, Shelton State 65
The fifth game of the day was a slow starter as both clubs struggled from the field. It was tied at 15-15 when Northeastern Oklahoma made the first move to break away from SheltonState, going on an 8-1 run to open up a 23-16 advantage with 7:15 to play in the half. Six-foot-3 Reggie Mathis was a key to the runm scoring five points. The two clubs were content to trade buckets the rest of the half as NEO went to the locker room up 37-31 over SheltonState.
The second half started with SheltonState closing the gap to two, 45-43, with just under 13 minutes to play. But Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (27-7)behind three slashing baskets by 6-foot-2 Dominique Gaines as they went on a 10-0 run to open up a 57-44 lead. Shelton State (24-11)never mounted a serious challenge the rest of the way as Northeastern Oklahoma went on to win a 78-65 victory in this opening round contest.
Northeastern Oklahoma was led by Mathis, who finished with 26 points and seven rebounds. He was followed closely by Dominique Gaines with 24 points and six rebounds. Six-foot-7 Cicero Gonzaga and 6-foot-5 Tulio Cobos finshed with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Gonzaga added 10 rebounds. Six-foot-2 Brandon Williams led SheltonState with 16 points, while Lajay Sears added 12 points and Jason Swanson chipped in with 10 points.
SewardCounty 90, No. 2 Chipola 84 OT
Unfortunately as sometimes happens at the NJCAA Championships, you get a semi-final or final match-up in the first round because the tourney uses a blind draw to determine the regional matchups. That was definitely the case in the Kansas champion, SewardCounty, meeting up with the tournaments overall No. 1 seed, Florida champion Chipola, on the opening night in Hutchinson.
And this match-up didn't disappoint in the first half as the two heavyweights felt each other out in the early going as Chipola (32-2)held a 13-11 advantage at the 13:36 mark of the first half. In comes 6-foot-4 Casey Mitchell, and the streak shooting wing exploded for six points in a Chipola 8-0 run that put them up, 21-11, with just under 12 minutes to play in the stanza.
But SewardCounty (30-5) behind the stellar play of 6-foot-9 Darko Cohedarevic chipped away at the Chipola lead to close to four points, 31-27, with just under four minutes left in the first half. It looked like Chipola had righted the ship when the Indians went on a 6-0 run fired by 6-foot-6 Torye Pelham to open it back up to 10, 37-27. But fouls, a problem that plagued Chipola all night again, tightened the game heading into the locker room as Seward hit six straight free throws in the final minute to close to within four again, 37-33, as they went to intermission.
The second half was one of the best in recent memory in Hutch, as the lead changed hands 15 times and featured five ties. No club enjoyed a lead larger than three points after the first basket of the half, as the two clubs battled to a standstill, 71-71, at the end of regulation as Chipola's 5-foot-11 Clevin Hannah hit a deep three to tie it. But it was free throws that really sent this one to overtime as Seward County knocked down 9-of-10 in the final two minutes (eight in a row by 6-foot point Reggie Chamberlain) while Chipola could only manage 4-of-8 from the charity stripe in the final seconds.
The overtime started with Chipola scoring a quick bucket on a drive by Hannah to go up 73-71, but that was the last lead Chipola would enjoy as Seward County went on a 10-0 run behind Cohedarevic and Chamberlain, who scored four points each in the run, to go up, 81-73, with 2:16 left in the overtime. The closest that Chipola got after that was six points as Seward County held on for a 90-84 victory. Seward hit five of their last six free throws to ice the victory. For the game, Seward hit 40-of-49 free throws, and that was the key to the Kansas squad's upset victory over the nation's No. 2 squad.
SewardCounty was led by Chamberlain, who finished with a game high 31 points including 20-of-24 from the foul line. He received solid support from Cohedarevic, who added 22 points and 10 rebounds. Six-foot-2 Nick Burns also hit for double figures with 13 points, while 6-foot-3 Bruno Mendes added nine. Chipola's top gun was Mario Little with 17 points, while Clevin Hannah added 15 points. Six-foot-3 Casey Mitchell and 6-foot-1 Vernon Teel chipped in with 14 points each in the upset.
Wednesday, March 19 First Round Games:
South Plains (26-5) vs. Georgia Perimeter (23-10)
Indian Hills (26-8) vs. No.5 Itawamba (29-2)
Look for more coverage from the NJCAA Nationals in Hutchinson, Kan., right here at Generation Next throughout the rest of the week.