Chipola Recovers, Survives
March 20, 2008
By Gene Schinzel (The Hutchinson News)
Chipola coach Greg Heiar said the team
he's watched all season hasn't shown itself
on the Sports Arena court yet.
Thanks to a second-half comeback, Chipola will have at least one more chance to show its true colors.
Chipola erased a 15-point second-half deficit and scored the game's final basket with 31 seconds left for a 76-75 victory over Shelton State, Ala., on Thursday in a consolation game at the NJCAA Tournament.
The victory for the Indians, who entered the tournament as the prohibitive favorite, came less than 40 hours after Seward County upended them in overtime in the first round.
"The kids played like they left their hearts and their minds on the court the other night," Heiar said. "I'm just proud they battled through the adversity."
Chipola trailed 54-39 with less than 15 minutes to play, but its comeback was capped by Malik Alvin's three-point play with 31 seconds left.
Shelton State had the game's final possession, but the Buccaneers failed to get off an attempt before the final buzzer. Shelton State scored on a baseline drive, but it was after the buzzer.
Chipola will play Itawamba, Miss., in another elimination game at 1 p.m. today. Chipola was ranked in the final national poll, while Itawamba was No. 5. Chipola led 19-11 with 9:30 left in the first half as Shelton State committed 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes.
But the Indians didn't make a field goal for the next five minutes as Shelton State settled down, scored 10 straight and led 38-34 at halftime.
Shelton State then outscored Chipola 13-3 in the first four minutes of the second half as forward Lucas Hall, who averaged 9.5 points on the season, scored nine in the low post during that stretch. He finished with a team-high 19 points and grabbed six rebounds.
Shelton State's lead increased to 54-39 with 14:40 left after Jason Swanson scored on a layin. At that point, the Buccaneers, despite committing 18 turnovers, were shooting 60 percent from the field and were controlling the glass.
"To win basketball games in the big leagues, you have to play smart. We haven't played smart yet out here," Heiar said. "I knew we would come out flat. We came out here to win a national championship. But the way we responded, I thought we showed a lot of character today."
But within the next five minutes, Shelton State's lead had dwindled to one.
Chipola started its comeback with back-to-back 3-pointers from Clevin Hannah - a Wichita State signee - and Mario Edwards. Edwards scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final 8:25.
Chipola took its first lead of the second half on an Edwards jumper with 6:20 left.
"Good teams are going to do that. When things weren't going their way, they started answering the call," Shelton State coach Barry Mohun said. "You have to give them credit. they were being real aggressive putting it on the floor and taking it to the hole."
There were six lead changes after that, the final coming on Alvin's three-point play.
Besides Edwards' 21 points, University of Kansas recruit Mario Little scored 15 points, despite being in foul trouble throughout the second half.