News Tigney Comes Up Big Gc Men Take Wpcc Title - Garrett College
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Campus News

February 28th, 2022

Tigney comes up big; GC men take WPCC title

Wilson, Jones total 42 as Lakers prep for regionals with 18th win

James Ellis presented a big problem in more ways than one.

Kobe Tigney provided the solution, with a lot of defensive assistance from his Garrett College teammates.

The 6-foot-4 Tigney gave away 7 inches to the 6-11 Ellis, but Tigney held Beaver County Community College's rangy center/forward to just 10 points. That was one of the keys as top-seeded Garrett College (18-10) wore down the second-seeded Titans (15-11) to claim an 80-68 victory in Saturday night's Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference Division II championship game.

"My mindset was to do whatever the team needed me to do to win," said Tigney, who scored on a loose-ball offensive rebound to break a 62-62 tie and put the Lakers ahead to stay. "I figured if I locked him [Ellis] down or held him below his average we had a better chance to win."

Tigney stood his ground to pick up an offensive foul from Ellis with 4:59 remaining, and Ellis fouled out just 42 seconds later. The Titans then came apart, scoring only 6 points while picking up 3 technical fouls the rest of the way.

"We changed a couple of principles defensively knowing James was going to play today," said GC head coach Matt McCullough, who was named WPCC Coach of the Year. "He's a real handful."

While Tigney sparked the Lakers' defensive efforts, guards Jhaiden Wilson and Darius Jones scored 22 and 20 points, respectively, to lead Garrett's offense.

"I never have a problem shooting the ball and my team has confidence in me," said Wilson, who also passed out 3 assists. "I knew I had to make the right reads and take the open shots they gave me."

"Jhaiden can get going pretty well," McCullough said of Wilson's offensive explosiveness. "His basketball IQ and understanding of how we want to play have really improved over the course of the season. He's totally bought into what we're trying to do."

While GC handed the Titans a 79-64 regular-season loss, that game came with Ellis out of the lineup. Beaver County had been surging of late, winning four straight after a 2-point loss to Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference champion Cecil College.

"They've been playing really well, with a number of quality wins in February," McCullough said of the Titans, who reached the finals with a 66-65 semifinal win over Potomac State. "They were a really hot team coming in here."

There were 9 first-half lead changes before the Lakers used a 21-7 run to build a 41-30 lead. Lamont Powell (4 assists) had all 10 of his points during the surge, which Jones (7 rebounds, 3 assists) capped with a 3-pointer.

Beaver, however, got back in the game as Devon Hermer scored the final 5 points of the half to pull his team within 41-35. The Titans twice regained the lead in the second half, the last time on a Daniel Felix jumper with 8:18 left that made it 58-57.

Tyler Rodeheaver's layup over Ellis put the Lakers back in front, and Ezekiel Edwards (9 points, all in the second half) buried a 3-pointer to give GC a 62-58 advantage. The Titans drew even at 62-62 with 5:44 left as Paul Rodolf (team-high 18 points) and Felix (11 points) sandwiched layups around 2 missed Rodeheaver free throws.

Beaver County had a chance to take the lead, but instead Tigney took a charge as Ellis picked up his fourth foul. Tigney scored the go-ahead basket on a put-back on Garrett's next possession, starting what proved to be an 18-6 Laker run to close the game.

After Ellis fouled out, Wilson buried a long 3-pointer. A couple of possessions later, Felix fouled Jones and then compounded the error by getting called for a technical foul. Wilson hit the 2 technical free throws and Jones split his charity tosses, stretching the lead to 70-62 with 2:44 remaining.

Beaver head coach Tyler Care drew a technical foul with 2:01 remaining, and Felix was called for hanging on the rim after turning a turnover into a slam dunk, resulting in his second technical of the game.

"We've talked a lot about controlling what we can control and keeping our heads when other teams are facing adversity," said McCullough. "Tonight was good from a discipline standpoint. I thought we handled ourselves really well."

Tigney, who finished with 9 points, echoed his coach's remarks.

"We've been on the other side of being hot-headed and getting called for technicals," noted Tigney. "We had to stay level-headed and poised as a team and be mature."

Jones, Powell and Wilson all made the WPCC all-tournament team for GC.

McCullough's Coach-of-the-Year honors come in his first season as a collegiate head coach.

"It's a great honor; all the credit goes to our team and the way they all work hard every single day," said McCullough, who was much more excited about the conference title.

"To see it all kind of click in and come together at the end is a great feeling," said McCullough. "I couldn't be more happy or excited for the guys."

The fifth-seeded Lakers open the NJCAA Division II Region XX championship tournament Tuesday night at fourth-seeded Montgomery College (13-10). GC recently defeated Montgomery College, 87-81, in the teams' only meeting of the regular season.

The winner of Tuesday's quarterfinal advances to the regional Final Four Friday and Saturday at Garrett College.

Notes: Laker guard Terrance Ward had a team-high 5 steals to go along with 3 points and 3 assists. Rodeheaver finished with 5 points and Mekhi Price had 2 points to round out the GC scorers.