The Snow College Badgers entered the Region XVIII Tournament as the number two seed and ultimately faced off against Salt Lake Community College for the championship but lost the title in the final match, 95-61, after soundly beating two other teams.
The men’s basketball team first faced off in the tournament against the Community Christian College Saints for the third time in less than a week, dominating the game with a 107-53 win.
Snow brought a level of energy that the Saints didn’t see when they posted the Badgers on the back end of a long road trip last week. Snow jumped out to a nine-nothing start and never looked back as they built an insurmountable halftime lead of 57-28 on their way to the 107-53 win.
“We knew we could play better than what they saw us play last week,” said Head Coach Rob Nielson. “Our goal was to come out focused and play good defense and run-on offense.”
Snow College was able to go deep into their bench due to the early lead. Mason Chase came off the bench to score 14, Derek Marlowe also added 14, Hayden Franson had eight and Ben Tew six.
“Our bench played well,” said Nielson. “We knew we needed to get some minutes from the bench to get them in game mode and to limit our minutes across the board for our meeting with CSI the next night.”
Hagen Wright finished with 20 points and Clayton Southwick had 12 in the Badger win.
On Friday, the Badgers faced the Golden Eagles of the College of Southern Idaho in a tremendous battle that was the game of the tournament. CSI jumped out to a four-point lead that was quickly erased as the Badgers built a twelve-point lead in the first half, but no lead was ever safe, and the Golden Eagles fought back to trail by just four at the half. Snow College would go on to get the win, 86-79.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Nielson. “We played well to get a lead, but there were times we forgot what we were doing to build the lead and let them get back into the game.”
Wright had 9 points at the half, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer that sparked the Badgers going into the half. Wyatt Lowell also scored 9 in the first half and Drake Allen added 8.
Snow College led most of the second half, but the lead was never really “comfortable” as the Golden Eagles made run after run at the Badgers. However, Snow had an answer for each run and made their free throws down the wire to secure the win.
“[Some] of our best shooting efforts [were] when we needed the shots,” said Nielson. “Hagen hit some big threes and Wyatt hit his free throws down the stretch. We really needed this win.”
Wright finished 4-7 from behind the three-point arc for 22 points, Lowell finished with 23 points, Drake Allen had 12 points and Chase Potter ended with 11.
With the win, the Badgers earned a trip to the championship game and a shot at an at-large bid to the NJCAA National Tournament.
On Saturday, Snow College faced the number one team in the tournament and the number one team in the nation—Salt Lake Community College—and had a hard time matching the intensity they had the night before, falling behind early and never being able to work their way back into contention. The Badgers trailed from start to finish in the 95-61 loss.
“We had a game plan,” said Nielson. “But we had a hard time doing what we needed to do to take care of the ball and score. We had some good looks, but couldn’t control the ball and finish.”
The Badgers had 17 turnovers in the game that led to 29 Bruin points. Snow tried several times to make a run at SLCC, but the Bruins had an answer each time the Badgers tried to get close.
Allen finished with 18 points, Potter had 13 and Lowell added 11 in the loss. Wright and Lowell finished on the All-Tournament Team, while Potter was named as an honorable mention to the All-Conference Team. Wright made the second team and Lowell and Allen were named first team all-conference.