The third meeting between Connors State and Seminole State was a carbon copy of the previous two in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Region II Basketball Tournament at St. Gregory’s University’s J.P. Wood Field House.
Just as the previous two encounters Cowboys (23-6) rallied to overtake the Trojans (17-13) to capture a 97-86 victory and advance to Friday’s semifinal clash against Northeastern A&M at 6 p.m. The Norse defeated Western Oklahoma State 76-69 to advance.
“We have been in this situation several times (trailing) this year,” said Cowboys head coach Bill Muse. “We were in this same situation against Seminole at home the first time. I just told the kids at half time to stay the course keep playing hard and gets some stops.
“About the 10-minute mark the game started switching, and we got some momentum going. Ronnie Boyce came out made a couple of big threes. Once we got even with them we just took over.”
Connors trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, 32-19 with 4:38 left. Seminole went into the locker room with an 11-point lead 44-33 at the half.
“Give Seminole a lot of credit, it’s hard to be a team three times,” said Muse. “They had a heck of a first half. We didn’t have much productivity on offense the first half. We gave up too many points.
“The bottom line is we won and advance to the semifinals.”
However, the Cowboys rallied in the final 10 minutes of the second half to get the victory, behind Ronnie Boyce (25 points), Corlbe Ervin (24), Willie Attwood (18) and Devonte Robinson (16).
Cowboys began cutting into the Seminole lead the first three minutes of the second half to a 50-43 margin. Seminole upped its lead to 10 points 62-52 when Atwood committed his fourth foul and went to the bench with 13 minutes left.
“The first half we were just watching and not trying to make a play,” said Atwood. “We just weren’t aggressive and not playing defense.
“When I came back in after that fourth foul I started to be more aggressive. I picked up three quick fouls, back-to-back-to back. My teammates uplifted me and coach put me back in and said do my thing. Then I just exploded.”
That’s when Boyce and Ervin went to work to bring the Cowboys back. Boyce drove the lane to tie the game at 69-all with 8:47 remaining.
Seminole regained the lead 72-70 and Atwood returned at the 7:26 mark. Robinson then scored on a turn-around layup with 7:09 left to tie the game. Seminole again regained the lead on a bucket by Devonte Pierre, who finished with 30 points to lead the Trojans scoring.
Robinson then connected on a 10-foot jumper to tie the game once again and then Boyce and Atwood took control. Boyce gave the Cowboys a lead they would never relinquished 76-74 on a 15-foot jumper left of the key. Atwood then drove the lane twice to score for an 80-74 Cowboys lead with 4:40 left.
Seminole could never overcome the Cowboys’ tenacious defensive pressure the final three minutes as the Cowboys stepped up their offensive assault. Connors drained 37-of-58 from the field for a 63 percent shooting performance.
CONNORS STATE 97, SEMINOLE STATE 86
Seminole 44 42—86
Connors State 33 64—97
Seminole State (17-13)—Pierre 30, Durham 16, Adomitis 11, Price 9, Galbreath 7, Wright 6, Chandler 4, Perak 3.
Connors State (23-6)—Boyce 25, Ervin 24, Atwood 18, Robinson 16, Jones 5, Carroll 5, Broadnax 2, Spencer 2.