March 9th, 2020
Stone's trey, Selders' steal stun state champ Cecil
Lakers then fall to Howard in Region XX hoop semis, 82-69
Keynon Stone drilled a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining as sixth-seeded Garrett College stunned third-seeded state champion Cecil College, 78-74, Friday night in an NJCAA Region XX Division II men's basketball quarterfinal.
Cam Selders – who set up Stone's tie-breaking trey – came up with a victory-sealing steal with 4 seconds left. Selders then hit the first of two free throws to clinch the 78-74 victory, which avenged last year's region tournament loss to the Seahawks.
Second-seeded Howard Community College – which went on to win the region title – defeated Garrett, 82-69, in the second of two Saturday semifinals. That loss, however, didn't diminish the achievement of eliminating a Cecil team that went 23-7 overall and lost just once during the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference schedule. The Seahawks won last year's region championship on the way to a spot in the national tournament finals.
"Cecil has eliminated us at least the last two years, and maybe the last three," said GC head coach Dennis Gibson, who guided the Lakers to a 24-8 record this season. "So, obviously, to get that win was huge for us."
Garrett responded with a 9-1 spurt built on a trio of treys – two from Whitaker and one from Stone – as the Lakers took a 72-68 lead. Falco, however, rallied the Seahawks, completing a three-point play with 13 seconds remaining to create a 74-74 tie.
Stone's trey and Selders' free throw finished the Lakers' dismissal of the state champs from the region tournament.
Justin Cohen (21 points) and Diere Hodges (10 points) joined Falco in double figures for the Seahawks.
GC was hampered in Saturday's region semifinal by a cold-shooting, first-half performance. The Lakers shot 10-of-29 from the field, including just 3-of-11 from the 3-point line, as the Dragons built a 40-27 cushion. No Laker scored more than 6 points in the opening half.
Garrett made one second-half push against the Dragons, pulling within 49-46 on a Whitaker jumper. Howard, however, responded with a 10-2 run to stretch its lead to 59-48 as Naquan Williams-Day (game-high 21 points) hit a 3-point jumper and converted a 3-point play.
The Lakers never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Christian Matthews came off the bench to score 15 for the Dragons while teammates Daeshawn Eaton and Deven Richmond each added 12 points.
Five Lakers reached double figures: Selders (12), Whitaker (11), Payet (11), Brown (10) and Meron Ghebreyesus (10). Stone added 8 points.
"This is the deepest I have seen Region XX Division II in some time," said Gibson. "Any of the top seven seeds would have been a good representative nationally."
Gibson said he "feels bad this team didn't make it to nationals."
"Between character and academics and depth, this is one of the top three teams I've coached," said Gibson, who's taken three Laker squads to nationals during his GC coaching career.
Gibson – who had seven freshmen on the varsity and fielded a first-year freshman team that went 13-1 – is optimistic about the future.
"Our freshmen did an outstanding job for us all season and that is a bright spot going forward," said Gibson.
Notes: Howard defeated fourth-seeded CCBC-Dundalk, 104-85, in Sunday's title game. Dundalk had eliminated eighth-seeded Frederick Community College, 63-51, in Saturday's other Region XX semifinal.
Frederick (13-17) reached the semis with a stunning, 79-78 upset over top-seeded Community College of Beaver County (25-4). Juwan Burnett scored a game-high 25 points to lead four Cougars into double figures.