Rebels Basketball Places Third at National Tournament
The Hill College Men’s Basketball team placed third at the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament during the week of March 16-21.
It was a week of nail biting, close scoring games. The Runnin’ Rebels, seeded 12th in the tournament, played in games on five of the six tournament days. Their first opponent on Monday was Gillette College from Wyoming. The Rebels went into halftime down by six points, but after 21 game lead changes and eight ties, the Rebels came out on top when Jemerrio Jones hit two free throws with two-tenths of a second left on the clock. The Rebels won with a score of 85-83.
Tuesday’s game would bring the Rebels face to face with the Region 16 champion, Mineral Area College, Missouri. There were 10 ties and nine lead changes in this game, which was tied at 83 points each with less than two seconds on the clock. At 1.9 seconds, the game seemed destined for overtime, when Mineral Area called a timeout. Because they were out of timeouts, they received a technical foul, which gave the Rebels a shot at two free throws. Marcus Johnson, Jr. would sink the second of those, giving the Rebels the lead, the win, and a day off to rest.
A win on Thursday would mean the Rebels would go to the Final Four, an achievement that no other team in their conference had ever done before. The quarterfinals opponent for the Rebels was Holmes Community College out of Mississippi. It was another game of lead changes and ties, followed by a last-second win. After a 3-point shot by Holmes at 26.2 seconds left in the game, Holmes led by two. The Rebels took the ball down the court where Tyrell Bellot-Green shot from the 3-point line with just 18.9 seconds left. The shot bounced off the rim three times before falling into the basket and giving the Rebels the win by one point, again.
Hill’s Final Four matchup was South Plains College, also from Region V. At 15 seconds left in the game, South Plains was four points ahead of the Rebels. But Hill wasn’t done yet. They came back to tie up the game and take it into overtime, but this time, the Rebels couldn’t pull out a win. South Plains advanced to the finals after beating the Rebels with a final score of 102-90.
In the final game of the tournament for the Rebels, they faced 19th seeded Georgia Highlands. It was the only game of the week for Hill that wasn’t a nailbiter the entire way through. The Rebels scored first and never looked back, taking third place, with a winning score of 94-82.
Sophomore Marcus Johnson, Jr. and Freshman Jemerrio Jones were both selected for the All-Tournament Team. Jones was also awarded the Charles Sesher Sportmanship Award, which is presented annually to the player demonstrating the best sportsmanship throughout the tournament. The trophy is in honor of Charles Sesher, who for many years was one of the outstanding figures in National Junior College circles.
If you would like more information about the Hill College Men’s Basketball team, or other athletic team at Hill College, visit www.hillcollege.edu/athletics.