WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team will be the second seed in the Region 16 Postseason Tournament next week after falling to Moberly Area Community College, Moberly, Mo., 89-88 Saturday, Feb. 25, in a double overtime thriller at the West Plains Civic Center arena.
The Grizzlies, who are now 21-9 overall and 5-3 in region play, will face third seeded Three Rivers Community College, Poplar Bluff, Mo., (18-11 overall, 4-4 region) in one of the tournament’s semifinal games at 8 p.m. March 9 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo.
The other semifinal game at 6 p.m. March 9 in Hillsboro will pit the tournament’s No. 1 seed, Moberly (19-7 overall, 6-1 region) against the winner of the March 6 contest between No. 4 seed State Fair Community College, Sedalia, Mo., (13-14 overall, 3-5 region) and fifth seeded Mineral Area College, Park Hills, Mo., (13-13 overall, 1-6 region) in Sedalia.
The Region 16 championship game will be 7 p.m. Saturday, March 10, at Hillsboro. The champion will then host the winner of Region 4 in a district playoff game Tuesday, March 13. The district winner will then compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournament March 20-24 in Hutchinson, Kan.
The Grizzlies came out strong in the first half of Saturday’s game against Moberly, hitting 67. 9 percent of their shots from the field, including five of 12 attempts from the 3-point line, to take a 45-38 lead into the halftime break. But shots didn’t fall as easily for the Grizzlies in the second half, and they ended regulation in a 74-74 tie with the Greyhounds. Both teams scored 5 points in the first overtime period, finishing 79-79, and the Greyhounds outscored the Grizzlies 10-9 in the second overtime period to seal the win.
“We got good looks at the basket, but things just didn’t fall for us offensively later in the game,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “Like we said in the locker room after the game, there are no moral victories, but I was proud of our team’s effort. We had some new offensive looks in for this game, and we played as well as we have offensively for awhile.
Final stats show the Grizzlies hit 29 of 57 shots from the field for the game for 50.9 percent and seven of 23 shots from 3-point range for 30.4 percent. From the free throw line, they were 23 of 34 for 67.6 percent.
Leading scorers were sophomore Gage Wooten with 21 points, freshman Kervin Rameau with 17, sophomore Nathane Simniok 14 and freshman Miles Gatewood 13. Simniok and Rameau paced the Grizzlies on the boards with seven rebounds apiece. The Grizzlies also had 17 assists and 19 turnovers.
Moberly hit 29 of 48 shots from the field for the game for 60.4 percent, and 11 of 18 3-point shots for 61.1 percent. From the free throw line, they were 20 of 31 for 64.5 percent. Leading scorers were Kenny Williams with 20 points, Derrick Dilworth 16, Daylen Robinson 13, T.J. White 11 and Giovanni McLean 10. Moberly also had five assists and 13 turnovers.
“In a game like this, we could eat ourselves alive with all of the little things that could have made the difference in the game,” Walker said. “We could look at several of those misses that seemed to be halfway down and then came back out, but had we executed 10 percent better defensively, we would have won the game. We knew that we couldn’t over help off of their shooters, and we knew that they had several key guards to box out defensively, and there were just some crucial times that we didn’t do that.”
Saturday was the last home game for six sophomores who have been part of 70 wins for the Grizzlies over the past three seasons, Walker said. “They have spent time as the No. 1 defensive junior college team in the nation, and they have spent 17 weeks ranked in the top 25 and five weeks ranked at the No. 1 team in the nation. The 2011-2012 Grizzlies are currently eighth in the nation in team defensive average and fifth in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage,” the coach said.
Those six sophomores include Kevin Nelson, Albuquerque, N.M.; Jordan Clennon, Brampton, Ontario, Canada; Marin Petric, Zagreb, Croatia; Farbod Farman, Mashhad, Khorasan Razavik, Iran; Nathane Simniok, Forsyth, Mo.; and Gage Wooten, Centennial, Colo. All six were recognized prior to the game and praised for their achievements during their tenure with the team.
“I wish we would have been able to send our sophomores out with a win because they deserved that,” Walker said.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, including complete game statistics, visit the team’s website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.