By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – Temple College erased a 16-point first-half deficit, but Howard College's Markeys Deans hit a free throw with 12 seconds left to give the Hawks a 73-71 win in the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region V basketball tournament at the Mayborn Campus Center at Mary Hardin-Baylor on Thursday.
Although the Leopards didn't lead until the 6:59 mark of the second half, former Harker Heights standout Chris Ellis scored nine points early in the second half to keep Temple close despite being down by as many as 16 in the first half.
Wes Dipprey gave Temple its first lead of the game after Howard's Denzel Barnes was called for an offensive foul and Dipprey turned the fastbreak into a score to give the Leopards a 63-62 lead.
Temple went up by as many as four, but the Hawks regained the lead with 1:26 remaining in the game on a Sean Watson fast-break dunk after the Leopards turned the ball over for the 10th time in the second half.
The Leopards had a chance to retake the lead with 19 seconds left, but C.J. Richards missed two free-throws, setting up the game winner by Deans.
"We are used to these types of situations and we usually pull them out, but it just didn't happen tonight," said Ellis, who finished with a team-high 14 points.
Corey Allmond led the way for the Hawks with 19 points, while Watson finished the night with 17 points.
Howard jumped out to a 22-6 lead in the first six minutes of the game on Allmond's second 3-pointer of the game. The Hawks kept their 16-point lead for the next seven minutes, but then the Leopards began to chip away at the lead.
Temple's J.B. Conley hit a three with 5:36 left in the first half to pull the Leopards within 13, 36-23, and Ellis pulled Temple within 10, 38-28, with a 3-pointer of his own with 2:24 left.
With the help of 15 first-half turnovers by Howard, Temple got to within nine points, 43-34, on a layup at the buzzer, but Allmond's 16 first-half points kept the Leopards at a distance.
"Our team just didn't come out with the intensity that we should have," Ellis said about Temple's first half. "We didn't really get back on defense as well as we should've either."
Howard advances to the semifinals and will take on No. 8 Odessa College at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Odessa College 91, McLennan Community College 90, OT – Odessa College went just 1-for-4 from the free throw line in the final nine seconds of overtime, but the No. 8-ranked Wranglers held on to down the Highlanders and advance to the semifinals.
After McLennan's Quenton Kirby, a former Cove star who finished his career at Weimar, tied the game at 74 with seven seconds left in regulation, Odessa's Jamel Guyton scored five straight points in the first 20 seconds of overtime to give the Wranglers an 81-74 lead.
McLennan cut the lead to four in the next three minutes, but couldn't get any closer until Kerri Hagood hit a three with nine seconds left to pull the Highlanders within two, 90-88.
McLennan was forced to foul, but Odessa's Tommie Sykes missed his two free-throw attempts and Delrico Lane went 1-for-2. The Highlanders couldn't get a shot off in their next two possessions.
Sykes finished with 20 points and nine rebounds and Guyton led all scorers with 25 points, including five 3-pointers.
Harker Heights native Walt Harris led the way for McLennan with 22 points and Tray Carmouche hit six 3-pointers on his way to scoring 20 points.
Odessa built a 46-35 advantage with 15:53 left in the second half, but Carmouche pulled the Highlanders back within one, 49-48, after hitting back-to-back 3's in the next two minutes. The Wranglers again went up by six, 65-59 with 4:56 left in regulation, but Harris kept McLennan close after converting a Wrangler turnover into points with 1:36 left in the game. Harris was fouled on the play but injured his ankle, and Catrell Currie finished off the three-point play to make it 73-72 Odessa.
In the first half Odessa built a 33-29 half-time lead behind the three-point shooting of Guyton, who hit three 3's on his way to scoring 11 first half points. McLennan took an early 12-9 lead with 15:19 left in the first after Harris connected on a 3-pointer.
Odessa tied the game at 18 with 9:47 left after Guyton hit a floater in the lane. Guyton later gave Odessa a four-point lead with another layup, then Sykes got hot and scored four straight points in the next three minutes to give the Wranglers their biggest lead, 33-25 with 2:10 left in the first half.
Odessa will face Howard in the semi-finals on Saturday.
South Plains College 92, Weatherford College 87 – South Plains took the title of Cinderella after knocking off No. 1-seed Weatherford.
The Coyotes' Edvinas Ruzgas scored 30 points, but Nick Okorie and David Tairu combined to score 46 points to pull off the upset.
Both teams shot 58 percent from the floor, but South Plains forced Weatherford into 10 turnovers while committing just five of its own. Along with Okorie and Tairu, Jonathan Hall and Luciano de Souza each added 13 points and Carlos Dos Santos registered a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Roderick Flemings and John Lane were the only other players in double figures for Weatherford, with 19 points and 10 points, respectively.
South Plains moves onto the semifinals and will face Midland College at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Midland College 76, Collin County Community College 58 – Midland College had three players in double figures, while CCCC had just one as Midland moved onto the semi-finals against South Plains.
Greg Hill Jr. went 9-of-10 from the field and scored a game-high 25 points from off the bench. Tyrone Appleton, who recently commited to Kansas, added 18 points and Marcus Washington scored 16 points to lead Midland.
Midland, the No. 7-ranked team in the NJCAA poll, led 38-29 at the break.
Gilberto Clavell was the only Colin player in double figures with 21 points, most of which came from the free-throw line (13-of-16).
The women's side of the tournament will get under way at 12:30 p.m. today as McLennan will take on Howard. No. 9-ranked South Plains College and Collin County Community College will follow at 2:30 p.m, and No. 16 Midland and Temple will play at 5 p.m. Weatherford and Western Texas College will finish off the first day of the women's action at 7 p.m.
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.