Badger take Region 18 championship
Badgers blazing hot shooting wins the day
By James Tilson
PRICE—Riding blazing hot 3-point shooting, the Snow College men’s basketball team claimed the Region 18 championship by defeating the College of Southern Idaho 76-69 last Saturday night.
“When I hit my first three in the second half, it just started cooking,” said tournament MVP Brayden Johnson of his performance in the title game against CSI. “I’m pretty confident in my shot. If I’m open, I’m going to take it.” Johnson led all scorers with 24 points, 9-14 shooting, including 6-8 from 3-point range. Most of his points came in the second half with the game still in doubt.
The game with CSI was a tight affair throughout. The Golden Eagles matched up the Badgers flowing, “position-less” basketball with great athleticism and rebounding ability. Snow would constantly pass the ball around the perimeter, looking for the open shooter, while CSI would drive the lane and crash the boards for the easy put-back.
At the half, Snow led 3833. The Badgers built that lead on 54 percent shooting, on eight less shots than the Golden Eagles. But to start the second half, Snow started cold and didn’t score for almost three minutes. CSI tied the game at 40 before Snow got its offense rolling again.
Both teams battled back and forth, neither finding any separation. With about ten minutes left in the second half, Johnson began to heat up. At one point, Johnson hit a 3-pointer in three consecutive possessions. With 4:23 left in the game, Johnson’s final three put Snow up 64-61, and the Badgers would not give the lead back.
The final minutes of the game revolved around nervy possessions and free-throw shooting. Jake Walker, Darrian Nebeker (with a crucial rebound and put-back) and Truman Moore came through for the Badgers to make the final score 76-69.
“It was a great night for our college,” said Head Coach Rob Neilson. “Darrian Nebeker played big in the first half, made some big rebounds and really came through. And then Brayden Johnson, he was just unbelievable; 6-8 from three, even though they were keying on him. He just hit big shots.”
A large crowd of supporters for Snow College made the trip to Price to watch the Badgers in the finals, including the college president. “This was a fun game,” said Snow President Gary Carlston. “It was exactly what college athletics should be. It was a hard-fought game. The teams respected each other. The players, the coaches, everyone was good sports.”
The Badgers have one more game to play to see if they will make it to the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchison, Kan.
on March 1823. They will travel to Yuma, Ariz. on Saturday March 9 to take on the Region 1 champion Arizona Western College Matadors.
Arizona Western defeated Eastern Arizona College Monday night by the score of 85-81. The winner of the game between Snow and Arizona Western will receive an automatic bid to the national tournament.
However, even if they don’t win that game, Coach Neilson says there is still a chance the Badgers may receive an at large bid to the tournament. “There are eight at-large bids available, and we’re ranked No. 16 right now. So, depending on how it all plays out, there still a chance we could get in [if we don’t win].”
Pres. Carlston who was standing nearby and overheard the comment said, “Rob’s not a gambler, he’s just going to win the game.”