Coon Rapids, MN - The RCTC Yellowjackets men's basketball team came into their showdown with St. Cloud Technical and Community College riding a twelve game win streak, dating back to January 8th. When the dust had settled at Anoka-Ramsey, the Jackets extended their winning streak to 13 games in claiming the Region XIII and North Plains District title 82-62 over the Cyclones. In what may have been the Jackets most complete game of the season they got off to a great start and never looked back en route to the win.
St. Cloud got the first bucket of the game and that proved to be their only lead of the night, as RCTC went on an 11-2 run in the first 2 minutes to lead 11-4. The Jackets continued to build their lead and after a pair of free throws by Jerome Cunningham lead 20-7 only 6 minutes into the game. St. Cloud cut the lead to 10 at 27-17 on a three pointer by Eric Racine with 8 minutes remaining in the first half, but the Jackets continued to add to their lead, as Karmoga Lero hit a 3 with just over 2 minutes left in the first half to give RCTC a 42-26 lead. With only 7 seconds remaining in the half Lero grabbed a defensive rebound and found a streaking Jerome Cunningham who broke down the lane for a monster dunk just before time expired. The bucket gave RCTC a 49-30 lead at the break.
Devin Melzer lead the way for the Jackets in the first half with 13 points on 5-9 shooting. Defensively, RCTC held the Cyclones to only 31% from the floor and outrebounded St. Cloud 23-14.
The second half was a near repeat of the first as RCTC held St. Cloud to only 25% shooting from the floor while shooting at a 52% clip on their end. St. Cloud cut the lead to 16 twice in the half, but that was as close as the Cyclones could get, as the Jackets hit big shot after big shot. The Jackets built their lead to as many as 23 before St. Cloud hit two free throws as time expired for the final 82-62 score.
RCTC's Jerome Cunningham had 17 points to lead RCTC. Devin Melzer added 15 and Elijah Flenorl had 10. Karmoga Lero had 9 points off the bench, while Ray Adams also added 9 points. Kong Kong lead the way for the Jackets with 11 rebounds. Melzer had 8 while Lero had 7 as RCTC outrebounded St. Cloud 50-34. For the game the Jackets shot 53.7% while holding St. Cloud to just 29% from the floor.
With the win the #5 ranked Yellowjackets (25-5) punched their ticket to the NJCAA National Championships March 11th-14th. RCTC, in conjunction with Rochester Sports, will host the tournament at the Regional Sports Center. For details regarding the event go to: NJCAA Division III Tournament