Welcome Back: JCJC Bobcats Return to Ellisville National Champs - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Welcome Back: JCJC Bobcats Return to Ellisville National Champs

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BOBCATS CLAIM NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!

 

By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Amazing. Remarkable. Inspiring. Astounding.

Choose any number from a list of adjectives to describe the Jones County Junior College Bobcats claiming the 2013-14 NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

JCJC shocked the junior college sports world with an 87-77 victory over top-ranked and top-seeded Indian Hills Community College (Iowa) here Saturday night before an enthusiastic crowd at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.

Bobcat head coach Ladner was exhausted, but happy after the game. He thanked JCJC president Dr. Jesse Smith and athletic director Katie Herrington for their roles in bringing him to JCJC last year.

"A little bit of me has already started thinking, ‘Well, we have to get ready for the next game,'" said Ladner, who was voted Coach of the Tournament. "For five straight days, we have had to immediately prepare for a great opponent in less than 24 hours. So, this has not sunk in yet.

"I am very proud, but I'm also speechless. I don't know what else to say other than we are certainly proud to represent the best junior college in the state of Mississippi in Jones. And I am proud to represent the state of Mississippi. I appreciate Dr. Smith and Coach Herrington for taking a chance on hiring an old high school from the state."

The championship is the first-ever in basketball for a Mississippi, MACJC or Region 23 school.

The Bobcats, who end the year at 28-5 (a school record for wins in a season), entered the tournament as the 11th seed – and promptly became the lowest seeded school to win an NJCAA basketball title in any division.

JCJC became the first ever school to win five games in five days to win the championship. The tournament format changed last year, expanding from 16 to 24 teams.

And the Bobcats certainly did not go through the back door to capture the championship.

They defeated No. 22 seed Highland College (Ill.) on March 18 and No. 6 seed Hill College (Texas) on March 19. In succession, the Bobcats then beat No.3 seed Chipola College (Fla.) on March 20, No. 2 seed Vincennes College (Ind.) on March 21 and No. 1 seed Indian Hills on March 22.

Ladner was concerned about mental, as well as physical fatigue.

"It was in my mind, but I did not want it to get in their mind," he said. "To beat No. 22, who was a good team in Highland, and then 6, 3, 2 and 1 – we certainly came through the front door. That's a credit to these young men because they never thought any more about it.

"But it scared me to death. I guess as long as it didn't bother them, it didn't bother me. I'm real proud of them."

Brooklyn, N.Y., freshman forward Leroy "Truck" Fludd was voted the William B. French Most Valuable Player Award for the tournament. Kiln sophomore forward Johnny Zuppardo was named to the All-Tournament Team

The Bobcats, as they did all week, showed no fear against the IHCC Warriors.

They jumped out to a 12-4 lead with 15:45 left in the first half on a Fludd free throw. They expanded the lead to 22-10 at the 10:55 mark when Zuppardo scored inside.

IHCC trimmed the lead to 29-28 with 6:04 left when Jordan Washington scored.

But the Bobcats outscored the Warriors 17-5 the rest of the half and matched their longest lead when Fludd scored with 40 seconds left to give them a 46-33 lead at intermission.

But Indian Hills made a huge rush early in the second half. The Warriors held JCJC without a field goal for almost five minutes to start the half and would take their first lead just seconds after JCJC starter Thaddeus "Pop" Hall was ejected because of a double technical foul. Trailing 49-46 HCC's Quevyn Winter made 3-of-4 technical foul shots to tie the game at 49-49.

Roosevelt Scott's basket put IHCC ahead for the first time at 51-49 with 14:55 remaining in the game.

The Warriors would take their longest lead of the night when Quiydar Davis scored at the 13:02 mark to make it 57-52.

"We knew it was coming," Ladner said of the rally by Indian Hills. "They are not the No. 1 team in the country for nothing. We told our players to get ready because you are going to have to match their intensity.

"I could tell by the way Indian Hills came out and drove the ball to the basket those first couple of times, it was going to be tough. It looked like we got back on our heels a couple of times. We also had an emotional situation that happened there, which hurt us at the time."

But the Bobcats would come back and take a 60-57 lead with 10:29 left when Leo Garrett made a 3-pointer.

"We just told the guys to settle down and get back to doing what we were doing earlier," he said. "We did and we got the game and tempo back under control in our favor. I was really proud of the way we finished the game. We could have folded, but we did not and we finished strong."

With the game tied at 62-62, JCJC's Ashton Woodson made a layup to give the Bobcats the lead for good at 64-62 with 8:30 left. A pair of Lester Medford free throws pulled the Warriors to within 67-64 with 7:32 left, but that would be as close as they would get.

JCJC ran the lead out to 79-69 with 3:23 to play when Zuppardo scored. IHCC cut the lead to 79-74 with 2:47 left when Medford made a 3-pointer.

Bryce Jones made two free throws to put the Bobcats up 81-74 with 2:13 left, but Winters answered with a 3-point play to make it 81-77 with 2:05 remaining.

Neither team was able to score for over a minute until Woodson hit a layup to give the Bobcats an 83-77 lead.

After an IHCC miss, the Bobcats got the ball downcourt to Fludd, who slammed it home to make it 85-77 with 19.1 seconds left. Christopher "CJ" White then punctuated the game with another dunk with less than five seconds remaining.

"We are just hard to beat in those last four minutes," Ladner said. "I don't know what it is, but our guys seem to rise to the occasion. They did it again tonight and they have done it every single time we've needed them to do it."

Ladner said the Bobcats were able to wear down the Warriors late in the game and get them in foul trouble. Medford and Malik Dime ended up fouling out.

"I mentioned to Coach (Jesse) Carlin on the bench that No. 23 (Medford) – a great player – it looked like Leo Garrett had put the clamps on him," he said. "I told Coach that I did not think he would be able to do much and he didn't."

Fludd had a ‘double-double' to pace the Bobcats with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Garrett added 15 points, while White had 14, Hall had 12 and Zuppardo had 10 points and seven rebounds. Jones finished with six assists.

Scott had 21 to lead the Warriors, while Winters, Medford and Washington had 13 each. Davis had nine rebounds, while Medford had five assists.

JCJC was 29-of-63 from the field, including 4-of-15 from 3-point range, for 46 percent. The Bobcats, as they did all week, shot the ball well from the free throw line, making 25-of-33.

Indian Hills was 27-of-77 from the field, including a 3-of-30 mark from the 3-point line, for 35.1 percent. The Warriors were 20-of-27 from the foul line.

JCJC outrebounded Indian Hills 52-38. The Bobcats committed 24 turnovers, compared to 17 for the Warriors.

Ladner had great respect for Indian Hills going into the championship contest.

"I saw a portion of their game against New Mexico," he said. "To be honest with you, when I walked in and saw both of those teams, I thought to myself, ‘My gosh. Those look two Division I teams out there and we are liable to get embarrassed.' Indian Hills is as good as advertised. They are an outstanding team."

The Bobcats end the year on an eight-game winning streak. The key victory over the stretch was JCJC's 73-72 victory over East Mississippi in overtime in the Region 23 semifinals on March 7.

Zuppardo banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Bobcats to the win. If that shot does not go in, JCJC does not advance to the national tournament.

"It's magical," Ladner said. "I give credit to Jesus Christ. He has been with us all year. Before the season started, we dedicated the season to Him. We wanted to give glory and honor to His name by the way that we played and coached. Although we've had some shortcomings, just like that chapter tonight and I know that's not pleasing to Him, but the way that we played was."

"We were dead in the water in that East Mississippi game in regulation. We were down six with over 50 seconds remaining and actually had a chance to win it in regulation. Johnny sinks the 3-pointer off the glass to win it in overtime, so somebody upstairs has been looking after us, that's for sure."

Ladner noted the fact that a Mississippi team had never won the championship and a team from the state had only played for the title three times served as a rallying point for his team.

"We are excited about doing something for the state," he said. "I've heard from all of the coaches in our league, who wanted us to represent the state well. We kind of get looked down upon in our state, but we have a lot of pride in Mississippi. We have kind of built that up among our players. They have the mindset of, "By gosh. If they are going to look down on us, then we are going to show them.

Indian Hills ends the year at 34-3.

Add one adjective to the way JCJC won the NJCAA Division I championship: convincing.'

---

A boxscore from Saturday's championship is available at http://stats.njcaa.org/sports/mbkb/2013-14/div1/boxscores/20140322_p6by.xml

For more information on the tournament, go to www.njcaa.org

 

 

NJCAA Division I Tournament

At Hutchinson, Kan.

Hutchinson Sports Arena

Saturday's game

 NJCAA Championship

Hutchinson, Kan.

Hutchinson Sports Arena

Jones County 87, Indian Hills 77

JONES COUNTY (28-5 ) – Leroy Fludd 21, Leo Garrett 15, Christopher "CJ" White 14, Thaddeus Hall 12, Johnny Zuppardo 10, Bryce Jones 8, Ashton Woodson 6, Darris McLendon 0, Tyler Rhodes 0.

INDIAN HILLS (34-3) – Roosevelt Scott 21, Quevyn Winters 13, Lester Medford 13, Jordan Washington 13, Quiydar Davis 8, J.R. Harris 4, Malik Dime 3, Marcus Posley 2, Akolda Manyang 0, Bryce Elie 0.

Jones County            46 41 – 87

Indian Hills              33 44 – 77

 

 

 

NJCAA Division I Men's Tournament

Hutchinson, Kan.

Hutchinson Sports Arena

Monday's results

Game 1, New Mexico 79, Northeast Oklahoma A&M 62             

Game 2, South Plains 93, Cape Fear 81

Game 3, Harcum 97, Walters State 80

Game 4, Trinity Valley 68, Pratt 65

Game 5, Wallace State 101, Westchester 99

Game 6, Columbia State 80, Central Georgia Tech 58

Tuesday's results

Game 7, State Fair 111, Shelton State 99 (OT)

Game 8, Jones County 81, Highland 79

Game 9, Indian Hills 102, New Mexico 94 (2OT)

Game 10, South Plains 75, Paris 65

Game 11, Harcum 92, South Georgia Tech 74

Game 12, Trinity Valley 88, Northeastern 85

Wednesday's results

Game 13, Vincennes 84, Wallace State 77

Game 14, Columbia State 81, Salt Lake 78

Game 15, Chipola 91, State Fair 83

Game 16, Jones County 91, Hill College 82 (OT)

Thursday's results

Game 17, Indian Hills 71, South Plains 70

Game 18, Harcum 69, Trinity Valley 56

Game 19, Vincennes 95, Columbia State 89

Game 20, Jones County 86, Chipola 79

Friday's results

Game 21, Indian Hills 97, Harcum 94

Game 22, Jones County 76, Vincennes 63

Saturday's results

Game 23, consolation, Vincennes 98, Harcum 71

Game 24, championship, Jones County 87, Indian Hills 77

 

Photo 1

The Bobcats celebrate with the championship trophy after beating Indian Hills (Iowa) 87-77 for the NJCAA Division I National Championship Saturday night in Hutchinson, Kan.

 

Photo 2

Leroy "Truck" Fludd was named Tournament MVP.

 

Photo 3

JCJC head coach Jay Ladner cuts down the net after Saturday night's victory.

 

Photo 4

J. Larry Ladner, Bobcat head coach Jay Ladner's father, leads the JCJC team in prayer after winning the NJCAA Division I basketball championship Saturday night in Hutchinson, Kan.

 

Photos/Shawn Wansley, JCJC Sports Information

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sincerely,

Shawn

________________________

 

Shawn Wansley

Sports Information Director

Jones County Junior College

                                  

900 South Court St.                                                                                                                

Ellisville, MS 39437

Email:  shawn.wansley@jcjc.edu

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