Rochester, MN - The RCTC Yellowjackets overcame a slow start in their quarterfinal match-up yesterday versus Richland, but the Jackets were not able to repeat the magic today as they fell in the National Semifinals 84-76. RCTC concludes its season at 26-6, having won the North Plains District and Region XIII Championship. RCTC entered the tournament as the #4 seed.
In a repeat of yesterdays quarterfinal the Yellowjackets could not find their rhythm early as Sandhills took a 13-4 lead only 3:10 into the game. Coach LaPlante and his team steadied the ship once again as they inched their way back and found themselves trailing 15-11 with 14 minutes remaning in the first half after a Jerome Cunningham jumpshot. RCTC continued to battle in the half and tied the game at 23 with 6 minutes remaining in the period. The Jackets took their first lead only a minute later on a jumper by Kong Kong, followed immediately by a Kong dunk to lead 29-25. The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the period, with Sandhills heading into the lockeroom with a 37-36 lead.
The second half once again went back and forth, with neither team leading by more than five until the 10 minute mark when Sandhills opened up a 9 point lead on a Corry Addison lay-up. RCTC was not about to go away as the two teams continued to go toe to toe, with RCTC once again reclaiming the lead 67-66 with 4:51 remaining. Over the next three minutes momentum and the game changed in favor as Sandhills as they went on a 10-1 run to lead 76-68 with just 1:27 left.
The Jackets continued to battle late as they scored 7 straight points after trailing 82-69 to cut the margin 20 82-76, but two Savion Station fre throws with 8 seconds remaining sealed the game for Sandhills.
RCTC was lead in scoring by Jerome Cunningham with 18. Karmoga Lero hit 16 off the bench, and Kong Kong finished his RCTC career with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Ray Adams and Antonio Maddox each added 9 points. The Jackets shot 44% from the floor, but were only 4-21 from beyond the arc, and 16-26 (61%) from the line.
The second National Semifinal is on the way as Eastfield takes on Mohawk Valley. The winner of that game will take on Sandhills at 6:00 today for the NJCAA DIII National Championship.