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Central Regional - What Might Have Been

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  • Central Regional - What Might Have Been


    For all of you out there who crave just a little bit more from this season.

    Last night’s central finale was one for the ages. But let’s first take a look at how we got here.

    Saturday’s Opening Round Results

    #3 Southeastern Oklahoma vs. #6 Rogers State

    The NCAA’s last-minute decision to ban crowds certainly dampened the atmosphere, but the safety of everyone was obviously paramount Saturday morning in Maryville. Disappointed fans were turned away, while players, coaches, trainers, scorekeepers and referees were all screened Saturday morning and fortunately everyone passed the screening. Several of the referees struggled with the surprise eye-screening thrown their way from Northwest Missouri officials, and those who failed were immediately assigned to the afternoon session.

    Two of the best from the Sooner State took the floor and the regional kicked off at noon as scheduled. The screeches of basketball shoes sliding against the hardwood could be heard, along with the occasional grunts of players colliding, and the game in its purest form went on.

    The Savage Storm of SEOK scored the game’s first six points and never looked back, eventually handing the Hillcats from Rogers State a 77-60 defeat in what was the first Central Region appearance for RSU, the MIAA’s runner-up team in its first season in the league. Southeastern was led by All-Region performers Kevin Buckingham and Adam Dworsky, who scored 24 and 17 respectively. Dworsky finished with a double-double, dishing out a game-high 11 assists.

    #2 Southern Nazarene vs. #7 Henderson State

    The Crimson Storm’s Jhonathan Dunn, an All-Region first team performer, poured in 30 points topping his season average of 25.3 points per game in leading Southern Nazarene University to a 79-58 victory over GAC conference rival Henderson State. The Reddies, winners of last week’s GAC Tournament in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, finish their season at 23-9. SNU advances to the all-GAC semi-final Sunday night, where they’ll meet Southeastern Oklahoma State. The matchup ensures that the Great American Conference, who placed four teams in this year’s regional tourney, will be represented in Tuesday night’s regional final. All that remains now is to figure out which “storm” advances.

    #1 Northwest Missouri vs. #8 Oklahoma Baptist

    This one was over before it started, as the old cliché goes. The nation’s #1 team, the Northwest Missouri Bearcats, jumped out to a 13-0 start before Oklahoma Baptist connected on 1 of 2 free throws. By the halftime buzzer, which featured a half-court bucket from the Bearcats’ Diego Barnard, the home team held a comfortable 48-19 cushion. Northwest Missouri would cruise in the second half, sending the tourney’s final entrant back to Oklahoma with a convincing 87-49 victory. Trevor Hudgins narrowly missed a triple-double with 13 points, 12 assists and 8 rebounds, while junior Ryan Hawkins poured in 26 points for the ‘Cats.

    #4 Northern State vs. #5 Missouri Southern

    In a classic battle that lived up to its 4/5 billing, the Northern Sun’s top team took Missouri Southern to double-overtime in Saturday’s Central Region first round finale. In the much anticipated matchup of Northern State’s Parker Fox versus the Lions’ Cam Martin, neither backed down until a double-foul early in the second half sent Fox to the bench with his fourth foul while Martin remained on the court with three. Martin, an All-Region first teamer, finished with a game high 36 points but it wasn’t enough as the Wolves pulled out a 97-95 shootout. Mason Stark came up big in the two overtime periods, scoring 12 of his team’s final 15 points and finishing with 33 to lead Northern State. Fox finished with 20 despite playing 35 of the game’s 50 minutes, but his ability to avoid his fifth foul was huge for the NSIC’s lone representative in the tourney. It was a heart-breaking end to the season for Missouri Southern, especially their six seniors including Elyjah Clark who hit four three-pointers to finish just one below the MIAA career record held by Zach Schneider, an assistant coach for the regional host team.

    Sunday’s Semi-Final Results

    #2 Southern Nazarene vs. #3 Southeastern Oklahoma State

    Jhonathan Dunn continued his hot-shooting in Maryville, scoring 33 points including going 5-7 from long range in leading the Crimson Storm of Southern Nazarene to the regional finals. SNU also received 22 points from Micah Speight as the dynamic duo backed up their GAC regular season championship against their cross-state rivals from Durant, Oklahoma. Kevin Buckingham, a senior All-Region performer for Southeastern, was limited to 13 points in 22 minutes due to foul trouble. Adam Dworsky led the Savage Storm with 15 points and 12 assists, but the junior will return next year with his goals set to shatter numerous team records and make a third straight trip to the NCAA Division II Regionals. Southern Nazarene advances to play the winner of the Northwest Missouri-Northern State contest.

    #1 Northwest Missouri vs. #4 Northern State

    Bearcat Arena was relatively quiet again Sunday night, as the NCAA continued its stance on attendance related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The hosts Bearcats, however, took advantage of their familiarity with the nets to send the Wolves packing with an impressive 68-58 win. Northern State, following their late night double-overtime loss the night before, didn’t seem to have the energy and looked sluggish from the start. The game’s pace favored the Bearcats, who frequently ran the shot clock down as the Wolves chased the ball, and often finished with an easy bucket in the paint. Ryan Hawkins, Trevor Hudgins and Diego Bernard combined for 57 of the Bearcats’ 68 points. The Bearcats attempted only 10 three-pointers, hitting just 3 of those, but the inside game was enough to finish off the NSIC champions.

    Tuesday’s Finals

    #1 Northwest Missouri versus #2 Southern Nazarene

    At last, and once again before an empty Bearcat Arena, the top two seeds in the Central Regional squared off with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line. The Bearcats have been there before, including last year when they marched their way through an undefeated season and finished as national champions. For the Crimson Storm of Southern Nazarene, however, they were seeking their first trip past the regional despite having perhaps their best team in school history over the past few seasons. This one was a back and forth affair for 40 minutes, with SNU proving they belong on the same court as the MIAA’s top team. Once again, senior Jhonathan Dunn, averaging nearly 26 per game, continued his torrid shooting and seems to have found a home away from home. Dunn went off for 18 points in the first half before finishing with 34, going 8 of 13 from 3-point range. The Bearcats traded punches with Nazarene, led by sophomore guard Trevor Hudgins’ outside shooting and ability to distribute the basketball when he penetrated the zone defense. Hudgins would finish with 19 points and 9 assists, while teammate Ryan Hawkins added 17 and senior Ryan Welty scored 15 on 5 of 6 shooting from downtown. The game came down to the final play of the night. With Southern Nazarene clinging to a 78-76 lead and under 10 seconds to play, the Bearcats’ Diego Bernard stole the ball near midcourt and made his way to the basket, elevating over SNU’s Micah Speight in what might have been a spectacular game-tying dunk, however the ball deflected off the rim and flew towards midcourt as the remaining precious seconds continued to tick away. Hudgins, the ever-opportunistic MIAA Player of the Year, found the ball in his hands with barely a second to play and some 35 feet from the basket. The Manahattan, Kansas product could only hurriedly force up a prayer, and it was answered as his shot found nothing but net for a 79-78 regional final victory.

    Up Next:

    The COVID-19 outbreak continues, and in the wisdom of doing all it can to slow the spread of this virus and perhaps save hundreds of thousands of lives, the nation comes together at last and agrees that all sports have to take a back seat. Restaurants change plans on how to serve food, hospitals shore up and put new precautions in place, employers send their teams to work remotely from home to further isolation, churches shift to Facebook Live services, and the sports world cancels events world-wide in hopes that we all can be winners in the end.

    Stay safe everybody, and see you next season!

    Mister Wizard

    PS – hope you don’t mind that I went with the seedings. It only seemed fair.


  • #2
    No wonder Northern couldn't beat Northwest.

    "Northern State, following their late night double-overtime loss the night before, didn’t seem to have the energy and looked sluggish from the start."

    See, someone read your post! :)

    Comment


    • #3
      Made me smile, Mr Wizard. Thanks for your work and may you stay safe during these difficult times. God Bless!

      Comment


      • #4
        Very nice post Mr.Wizard. March Madness has turned into March Sadness.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for a few minutes distraction. I actually thought of doing the same thing over the weekend, but couldn't get the motivation to sit down and write it out. I simulated the games on Massey and had the same result, Northwest over Southern Nazarene in the finals. It would've been a really fun tournament with an inevitable result.

          Comment


          • #6
            You left out the part about when the officials tried to find a stopwatch to make sure there should still be time on the clock when the shot left Hudgins hand. They couldn't find one and due to the semi-quarantine they had to use a cell phone timer.
            (Somethings are hard to forget)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Hornetfan View Post
              You left out the part about when the officials tried to find a stopwatch to make sure there should still be time on the clock when the shot left Hudgins hand. They couldn't find one and due to the semi-quarantine they had to use a cell phone timer.
              (Somethings are hard to forget)
              Some things deserve ridicule.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Hornetfan View Post
                You left out the part about when the officials tried to find a stopwatch to make sure there should still be time on the clock when the shot left Hudgins hand. They couldn't find one and due to the semi-quarantine they had to use a cell phone timer.
                (Somethings are hard to forget)
                I didn't know Emporia was in the regional.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by GrifFan View Post

                  I didn't know Emporia was in the regional.
                  Went over after the Lady Hornets were finished in their 21st NCAA Tourney of the last 24 years.:wink:

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Very entertaining read and a good break from everything else. Guess no co-national champion t-shirts for us now.

                    Comment

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