RICHFIELD—Salt Lake Community College edged out Snow College in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 18 men’s basketball tournament semifinals last week.
In the first round of the tournament on Thursday against Colorado Northwestern Community College, the Badgers led 71-27 at halftime. They won that game 110-64.
But then, after rallying back from being 16 points down, Snow lost, 102-95, to Salt Lake Community College on Friday at Sevier Valley Center. With the loss, Snow’s season ended.
Snow Coach Robert Nielson said that in the first half of the CNCC game, his team “played flawless basketball on both ends.”
Twenty of the Badgers’ 29 baskets in the first half came through assists. Nielson called it “unselfish basketball.”
Snow also out-rebounded the Spartans 20-7 in the first half en route to a 40-21 advantage for the game. Nielson said Snow is bigger than CNCC and the Spartans were missing post players. So the Badgers also went inside and outscored CNCC 60-22 in the paint.
Snow also shot 69 percent in the first half and 59 percent for the game. Nielson said that the Badgers got good shots, didn’t shot many bad shots and moved the ball for “assisted shots.”
“And we’re good shooters,” Nielson said.
Players like Matt Norman, Travis Wagstaff and Ross Reeves have caught fire this season, but it was Michael Scheffner’s turn Thursday. He shot 7-of-9, including 2-of-3 from the 3-point line.
The major blowout of CNCC allowed Badger starters to get some rest for the showdown against SLCC. But as Nielson said, the Bruins have “a lot of weapons.”
“And everybody that they put in, it seemed, played well,” Nielson said.
When Snow got within two or three points after overcoming most of the 16-point deficit in the first half, SLCC scored. The Bruins shot 71 percent in the second half and hardly missed at all in the middle portion of the half.
“Tonight, they all went in,” Nielson said. “We couldn’t get one more stop. … When they shoot it well, as big and strong as they are, they’re hard to beat.”
Drake Allen played so well in the first half, getting to the hole, having a size advantage over opposing guards and doing a good job defensively on some of them, that Nielson started him in the second half.
There appeared to be a mismatch between the Badgers and Jay Allen-Tovar of the Bruins. Allen-Tovar shot 7-of-8 en route to scoring 20 points.
“He’s a big kid,” Nielson said. “When he’s playing well for them, he gives them a dimension that we don’t have.”
Nielson was proud that his team battled back.
“They never quit,” Nielson said. “They work really hard, they’re great kids, and they love each other, and they’re good friends, and they’ll always be friends. I’m proud of the season they had.”