For the first time since 1970, the Snow College men’s basketball team won their way to an invitation to the NJCAA National Basketball Tournament.
The Badgers took second place in the Scenic West Athletic Conference regular season with a 25-8 overall record and a 13-5 record in the SWAC. Snow also took second place in the Region XVIII Tournament, losing only to no. 1 Salt Lake Community College.
The Badgers received one of the at-large bids to the tournament and a 15 seed and faced 18th seeded Lee College in the first round of games on Monday, March 14.
Snow College trailed for much of the first half to Lee College and were down 38-41 at the half. The Badgers came out strong to start the second half, going on a 13-0 run to take a ten-point lead. Drake Allen led the comeback for Snow College, scoring 27 points and hauling in 6 rebounds. Clayton Southwick had a monster game with a double-double, scoring 22 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Chase Potter added 16 points, and Wyatt Lowell had ten.
Snow College couldn’t hold on to the lead, however, and were forced into overtime by Lee College. Both teams struggled to score points in the overtime, but Snow College managed four points and held Lee to just three, and, thanks to a big, blocked shot by Hagen Wright at the buzzer, the Badgers advanced to the second round and the sweet sixteen to face Dodge City.
The Badgers played a great first half against the Conquistadors of Dodge City and went into the locker room up by 11, 42-31. It looked like the Badgers were loose and played like they had nothing to lose, but the second half was a completely different story for Snow College. Credit the Conquistadors with an aggressive defense that took the Badgers out of their game plan because Snow College went the first six minutes of the second half without any points at all.
“We knew they would be a different team in the second half,” said Head Coach Rob Nielson. “They have done it all year, playing from behind and winning games after trailing at the half. We just didn’t respond the way we needed to.”
In a game that was closer than the score, Snow College bowed out of the tournament with a 65-82 loss to the second seeded Conquistadors of Dodge City. Lowell led the Badgers in scoring with 19, Wright had 15 and Allen finished with 11 points and eight assists.
“I’m proud of this team,” said Nielson. “This team went further than any team for over 50 years of Snow College men’s basketball. I knew this team had the potential to be here back in November and December. It’s a great group of players that will go on and have impacts at four-year schools.”
Drake Allen was named to the NJCAA All-Tournament Team, and several players received a lot of attention from D1 schools.
“This is an important stage for our players to get the exposure that they deserve,” said Nielson. “This is great for our program and something for us to build on for the future.”