Both Western New York entries are very much alive after the first day of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Men’s Basketball Championships on Tuesday in Danville, Ill.
The Erie Community College Kats (26-4), the No. 4 seed, rubbed the sleep from their eyes and went on to a runaway 83-56 victory over Morton College (Ill.) in the 9 a.m. (local time) tournament opener. No. 12 Morton (21-13) fell to the losers bracket.
No. 9 seed Niagara County CC also advanced with a 73-61 triumph over No. 8 Wake Tech (N.C.) on Wednesday night.
ECC won’t play again until 9 p.m. on Thursday when it meets the winner of Wednesday’s first round game between Milwaukee Area CC and Ancilla (Ill).
NCCC (27-8) will face No. 1 seed Kirkwood (Iowa) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Kirkwood (28-4) advanced with a 96-66 rout of North Central Missouri.
ECC made 8 of 14 3-pointers and 16 of 26 field goal attempts overall in the first half in opening a 45-24 lead over Morton. Coach Alex Nwora’s Kats led by as many as 28 points late in the game.
Five ECC players scored in double figures. Kyle Harris and Mohamed Diakite had 14 points each. Jonathan McDonald had 11 points while Michael Motley (St. Joe’s) and Shevon Anisca had 10 each. Diakite made four of his five attempts from 3-point range. McDonald had 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
Tyrone Shivers had 25 points for Morton but also had seven of the Panthers’ 23 turnovers. ECC had a 31-20 advantage in rebounds.
NCCC led by 32-31 at the half against Wake. Coach Bill Beilein’s Thunderwolves were trailing 56-55 with 6:44 left before putting on a closing rally.
Fode Camara, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Queens, led NCCC with 11 points. Sophomore Christian Nodine (Starpoint) had 10 points while David Petit-Homme had nine points and Dytanya Mixson had eight points. Jaren Ellerbe had 17 to lead Wake.
The Thunderwolves took the lead for good, 59-58, with 5:18 left on two free throws by Sincere Rahsahai, a sophomore from Rochester. A 3-pointer by Nigel Scantlebury, a freshman from Rochester made it 62-68. NCCC scored nine of its last 11 points at the foul line with a baskset by Camara to make it 66-60 the only field goal in the stretch run.
Besides Kirkwood, No. 2 seed Johnson County (Kan.) advanced easily, 96-69 over Pitt (N.C.). However, No. 3 seed Pima (Ariz.) was upset, 81-72, by Cecil (Md.).
No. 7 seed Dakota County Tech (Minn.) played the late game Tuesday.
Two first round games were to be played on Wednesday involving No. 5 Milwaukee Area Tech and No. 6 St. Clair County (Mich.).
NCCC women face Sinclair
Niagara County CC puts its undefeated record on the line at 2 p.m. Wednesday against Sinclair College of Dayton, Ohio, in the first round of the NJCAA Division II women’s basketball championship in Harrison, Ark.
The Thunderwolves (31-0), who have outscored their opponents by an average of 34 points a game (89.2 to 55.2) this season enter the tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Illinois Central is the No. 1 seed.
Monroe Community College of Rochester won the championship last year.
NCCC, coached by Nate Beutel, is largely a home-grown team. Four of their five leading scorers come from Western New York.
Kenetria Redfern (Cheektowaga) leads the T-Wolves with a 22.4 scoring average and a 9.4 rebounding mark. Paige Emborsky (Newfane) 16.4; Shilah Parker (Cardinal O’Hara) 15.4 and Cori Dickson (Cardinal O’Hara) 9.3 start along with Aubrey Halloran (10.3) from Albany.
Sinclair (26-4) has a 1-2 punch of 6-4 Amanda Schroeder (26.5 ppg, 12 rpg) and Kierre James (22.7). They’ve combined for 153 3-pointers.