HUTCHINSON, KANSAS – An instant classic.
The road to a national title ended for the Trinity Valley Community College Cardinals in the second round against a hot shooting Cowley Tigers team.
The Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals in a 134-107 victory Tuesday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. The 241 points set a national tournament record for combined points in a game dating back to 1977 between Tallahassee Community College and North Idaho College of 237 points.
“I can’t put any value on that right now. It just tells me that our guys adapted to their style of play remarkably in one day,” TVCC head coach Mark Leslie said. “They adapted because that is not how we play, so we played that way for the first time all year. They (Cowley) play that way everyday and that is a tough team.”
The Tigers have won 13 straight, scoring 100 points or more in 11 of the wins and the last six. The Tigers are currently second in points scored per game at 108.3 behind Grayson, who finished with 109.1 per contest.
Cowley (22-4) faces No. 1-seed Mineral Area Cardinals (24-0 overall) Thursday at 2 p.m. in the quarterfinals. Mineral Area defeated No. 16-seed Hutchinson, 80-77 Tuesday.
The No. 9-seed TVCC Cardinals ended the year 23-3 overall in Leslie’s first year as the head coach. The Cardinals finished No. 8 in the country and are 15-10 overall in national tournament games.
“I told them that they had a special year and one of our favorite groups that we have had. Nobody expected them to be this good and I was one of them,” Leslie said. “The sophomores were a special group and I think they showed that this is a winning culture on our campus. These guys upheld that culture and kept what Trinity Valley is all about.”
Leslie said he is relieved with everything that went on this year that the year is over at 23-3 overall. He knows the group of players had a remarkable year through a global pandemic.
“There is some sigh of relief since I have been a part of some good teams. For us to finish No. 8 in the country and lose in the Sweet 16 is a sigh of relief since this year is over,” Leslie said. “We didn’t want it to end now, but I always knew what I could do and what our staff could do. We have been together for six years because we have great chemistry as a staff. I think I got the best coaches in the country.”
The two teams opened up on fire in the first half as Cowley held a 77-70 lead at half. TVCC shot 63.2-percent from the field, while Cowley went 55.6-percent against the Cardinals.
“I wouldn’t say it caught us off guard,” Leslie said. “You just can’t simulate it so you a fine for the first10 minutes into the game, but before you can understand what you are facing, then it is the worst team to face on a back-to-back game when they didn’t play the day before.”
Travon Fuller gave TVCC its biggest lead of the first half at 37-28 on a fast break layup with 11:15 left for two of his 25 points in the first half. He was 9-of-15 from the field and went 7-of-13 from 3-point range.
Fuller was held scoreless in the second half as he finished with 25 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal in 36 minutes of action.
“He (Trevon) got several good looks in the second half and they just didn’t go down,” Leslie said. “Even in the first half, he could have had more and I took him out of the game for a stretch. We started playing well during that stretch. It was then time for him to come back in and pick it back up after sitting down, so it was nothing that they did in the second half.”
In the second half, Cowley continued to put on the pressure forcing TVCC to shoot 15-of-35 from the field for 43 percent. They finished 39-of-73 for 53.4 percent.
Cowley went 43-of-91 from the field for 47.3 percent and 45.8 percent from 3-point territory.
With 12:50 remaining in regulation, Cowley hit the 100 point plateau on a layup by Raishaun Brown for the 101-84 lead.
Dashawn Davis had a layup with 4:58 left to cut the deficit to 121-101. Davis finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.
This was the final game for sophomores Keron Bailey, Davis, Anderson Mirambeaux, Darry Moore, Lathaniel Bastian and Fuller.
“I knew we had a tough group with a lot of character and determination and resolve,” Leslie said. “I knew that they would face the challenge, but I didn’t know if he had enough in us to complete it. I expected us to give it a run and it is the back end that teams struggle with since we don’t do it everyday.”
TVCC (107) – Sofara Rasas 11, Keron Bailey 7, Jakevion Buckley 12, Dashawn Davis 18, Anderson Mirambeaux 1, Darry Moore 14, Tuongthach Gathek 19, Trevon Fuller 25.
COWLEY (134) – Mikel Henderson 33, Clarence King 3, Mount’Tae Edmundson 17, Shemarri Allen 13, Raishaun Brown 10, Cevin Clark 21, Dalen Ridgnal 24, Tarese Morse 2, Jacquez Yow 8, Josiah Harris 3.