History made! No. 19 Bobcats whip Pearl River to reach national tournament!March 9, 2014
By Shawn Wansley, JCJC Sports Information Director
CLINTON – The 19th-ranked Jones County Junior College Bobcats are headed to Kansas!
Head coach Jay Ladner’s Bobcats never trailed as they defeated Pearl River Community College 80-67 in the Region 23 championship game here Saturday night at A.E. Wood Coliseum on the campus of Mississippi College.
The victory sends JCJC, 23-5, to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament March 17-22 at The Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kan.
It is the first time ever for a JCJC basketball team to reach the national tournament.
The seeding and tournament bracket will be released on Tuesday afternoon. The tournament is a 24-team, single-elimination event.
All of the games in the national tournament will be televised live on www.njcaatv.com.
Pearl River ends the year at 18-8.
Bobcats 80, Wildcats 67
JCJC placed five players in double figures, as they triumphed in the “Catfight for Kansas.”
Leroy “Truck” Fludd led the way with 20 points, while Thaddeus “Pop” Hall added 18 points and seven rebounds. Johnny Zuppardo had 16 points and five steals, Leo Garrett had 14 – including four 3-pointers – and Bryce Jones had 10 points, eight assists and six steals.
Fludd and Zuppardo were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Zuppardo, who had the game-winning 3-pointer in overtime at the buzzer to beat East Mississippi 73-72 in the semifinals on Friday, opened the game with a trey and the Bobcats never looked back.
A layup by Hall gave JCJC a 13-4 lead with 14:42 left and a Zuppardo bucket off a CJ White assist gave the Bobcats a 26-12 lead with 7:15 left in the first half.
The Wildcats would rally and cut the lead to 32-31 at halftime when Kaven Bernard scored at the buzzer. But that’s as close as Pearl River would get the rest of the game.
Hall hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and Garrett’s fourth 3-pointer gave the Bobcats a 48-37 lead with 15:12 remaining.
JCJC would take its longest lead of the game at 61-45 with 7:48 to play when Hall hit two free throws. Pearl River’s final rally would bring them to within 63-55 with 3:54 showing when Quintarius Porter made a free throw. But White would score on the other end to make it 65-55 with 3:40 to play and Pearl River would not get within single digits the rest of the way.
Bernard had 18 points to the lead the Wildcats, while Jeremy Hollimon added 16, Porter had 14 and DeAngelo Coleman had 12. Bernard had nine rebounds and Coleman had five assists.
JCJC was 27-of-48 from the field, including 7-of-14 from the 3-point range, for 56 percent. The Bobcats were 19-of-28 from the free throw line.
Pearl River was 23-of-46 from the floor, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, for 50 percent. The Wildcats were 17-of-21 from the foul line.
Baton Rouge Community College (La.) defeated Southwest 68-57 for the women’s Region 23 title. Both teams will advance to the NJCAA Division I Women’s National Tournament March 17-22 in Salina, Kan.
JCJC’s Kaylan Hughes was named to the All-Tournament Team.