HUTCHINSON, Kansas – There was nothing unusual about No. 8 Jones County Junior College’s convincing, 106-78 victory over Caldwell Tech (North Carolina) in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament.
It’s what head coach Rahim Lockhart‘s Bobcats have done all season long.
“The guys played well,” he said Monday afternoon in the Media Room of the Hutchinson Sports Arena. “It’s kind of what we have been doing all year. We want to keep the tempo up by playing 10 guys, with five in and five out. I was reallypleased with what the guys did.“We felt like in order to get to Hutch, which was our goal, we had to play this season with the end in mind. We wanted to make sure we had enough legs and enough people with experience that when we got to this situation, it would not be a shock to them. We have been playing 10 or 11 guys all year because we knew to win this tournament, you had to have a deep team.”The Bobcats played all 15 players on the roster and everyone played solidly.Sophomore forward Bruce Stevens (Bay Springs) led five players in double figures with 24 points. Freshman guard Enrique Milton (Jackson Provine) had his best game of the season with 16 points, while sophomore guard Rickey Holden (Laurel) added 15. Sophomore guard David Davis (Purvis) added 12 and sophomore forward Tristin Walley (Hattiesburg) had 10 points.Milton was 12-of-12 from the free throw line and Stevens was 8-of-8.“We have bought in to the ‘All In’ slogan where everyone does their part,” Lockhart said. “In some games, one person may shine a little bit more and get a chance to score the ball. But everybody will have a chance to play, everybody will have a chance to rebound, everybody will have a chance to defend and everybody will have a chance to communicate and help us win.“Tonight, Enrique had one of those kind of games where he was in the right spot at the right time. He did a great job of shooting his free throws.”The Bobcats improved to 29-1 on the year and won their 17th straight game.JCJC, the No. 9 seed in the tournament, will face No. 8 Northwest Florida at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in round two. The game will air on www.njcaatv.com.
Monday’s game was never in doubt.The Bobcats led 27-13 midway through the first half and then went on a 13-0 run and took its longest lead of the game at 40-13 with 7:29 left in the first half.
The Cobras trimmed the lead to 52-36 at halftime.Marsellis Purvis (Brooklyn, New York) hit two free throws with 15:50 left to give Jones a 69-43 lead.Jabrie Bullard hit a 3-pointer for the Cobras to cut the lead to 73-58 with 13:01 left, but that was as close as Caldwell Tech would get.Jones extended the lead to 97-71 with 3:10 left when Xavier Howard (Pearl) scored off an assist by Leito Holloway (Charlotte, North Carolina).Stevens led the Bobcats with eight rebounds, while Holden had five assists and Milton and Maurice Dunlap (Amanda Elzy) had four assists each.“Bruce has been doing this past two years,” Lockhart said. “He has been a real consistent force for us. That’s why we feel he is the best bigman in the nation. I think he gave evidence of why he is that tonight.”
JCJC outscored Caldwell 38-18 in the paint and 21-7 on fastbreak points.