|No. 12 EMCC Lions repeat as NJCAA Region 23 champs with 71-67 win over Southern-Shreveport|
CLINTON – It’s twice as nice for the East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball team, as the 12th-ranked Lions successfully defended their region hoops title by claiming a 71-67 victory over Southern-Shreveport in Thursday’s championship game of the 2011 NJCAA Region 23 Basketball Tournament played at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the Mississippi College campus.
After scoring the first 12 points of the championship contest and seeing a 20-point, first-half lead succumb to a 13-0 spurt by the third-seeded Jaguars during a four-minute stretch early in the second half, the top-seeded EMCC Lions battled back to become the first men’s team since Itawamba (2007 & 2008) to earn back-to-back NJCAA Region 23 Tournament titles.
With victories over East Central (81-74), Pearl River (89-80) and Southern-Shreveport this week in Clinton, head coach Mark White’s 24-4 EMCC Lions will make their second straight appearance in the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. The 64th national championship tournament will take place March 15-19 at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Kansas.
In Thursday’s regional title game, the Lions scored the first dozen points of the contest en route to taking a commanding 38-18 lead by the 4:05 mark of the opening period. The Jaguars, champions of the Miss-Lou Conference, were held scoreless until Lester Johnson knocked down a 3-pointer nearly six minutes into the game.
EMCC held a seemingly comfortable 42-28 halftime lead and was still in control by 15 points (51-36) nearly four minutes into the second stanza. At that point, the Jaguars went on a torrid shooting pace and ran off 13 unanswered points during a frantic four-minute stretch. A bucket by EMCC freshman playmaker D.J. Evans at the 11:43 mark was the only scoring the Lions could muster from the 16-minute mark until the midway point of the second half.
Completing a 20-2 run by the 10:15 mark, Southern-Shreveport went ahead by three points (56-53) when Rodney Hill converted a three-point play and Jereol Walker followed with a breakaway slam. The Lions managed to regroup by scoring six straight points to reclaim the lead they would not relinquish again for the remaining nine minutes of the title tilt.
Down the stretch, a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Jonathan King gave EMCC a 69-65 lead with 23.4 seconds remaining. However, Southern-Shreveport’s Johnson darted down the floor for a quick basket to cut the margin in half with 19.1 ticks left. EMCC’s Evans was then fouled with 14.8 seconds left on the game clock. After sinking his first free throw, Evans’ missed second attempt was snared by Lion freshman Millaun Brown. Sophomore standout guard Deonte Alexander went to the line and nailed the all-important first of two charity tosses with just 8.4 ticks remaining to seal the victory and account for the final margin.
Alexander led a trio of double-digit scorers for East Mississippi with a game-high 19 points, including 14 coming in the first half. The Nashville native was selected to the NJCAA Region 23 All-Tournament Team for the second straight year and was joined on this year’s all-tourney squad by King. A product of Panama City, Panama, King registered his 13th double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds, including nine offensive boards, in the championship game. Meridian’s Donovan Walker added 17 points for the winners.
The 26-5 Jaguars of Southern-Shreveport were led by Johnson and Corey Blake with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 04 March 2011 )|
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