Lose heartbreaker to Missouri State West-Plains 89-88
Await NJCAA Selection At Large Bids
The Moberly Area Community College saw their bid for an NJCAA Region 16 Tournament Championship end with a tough loss 89-88 to Missouri State-West Plains in the Semi-finals. After falling behind early, the Greyhounds came back to claim a 40-35 halftime lead. They eventually stretched that to 61-51 with ten minutes remaining but saw West Plains come back to grab a 75-74 lead and the game was back and forth from that moment on. With the score tied at 88 all, the Greyhounds was called for a foul with 16 seconds remaining on a loose ball and MSU-West Plains hit one of two free throws to claim the lead. Moberly came back and worked the ball to the basket where they had a last second contested shot roll off the rim to end their regional tourney run. Billy Thomas lead Moberly in scoring with 21 points, Alonzo Verge had 16 points, Randy Miller contributed 14, Dallas Morgan added 12 while Tyree White and Sean Miller-Moore scored 11 points each. Eric Lovett lead West Plains in scoring with 24 points, Ricky Torres scored 19, Rashad Davis added 17 and Burone Edwards had 12 points. Moberly had defeated West Plains twice during the season and after going 8-0 in Region 16 competition, absorbed their first loss in regional play this season.
“One of the toughest losses of my career without a doubt and I really feel for the 13 players in that locker room,” said Coach Patrick Smith, “A loss like this, unfortunately, kind of diminishes the tremendous accomplishments this unit worked to get done this season. Doesn’t make it right, but it is reality as we wanted to add a Regional Tournament Title to our Regional regular season and Conference Titles. We did not play one of our better games, thought we played hard but made too many mistakes in a game of this magnitude. We had a couple of occasions we could have gained control of the game but our offensive execution and decisions really hurt us. Basketball is a game of making plays and MSU-West Plains made a couple more plays than we did. However, I give a lot of credit to the Grizzlies, they played a really solid game, had a good game plan and it ended their way at the end. Foul trouble hurt us all day and we just struggled to find a good flow. Now we have to await our fate, cheer for the other regional favorites to win and hope we are selected as an At-Large berth for the NJCAA National Tournament.”
Moberly currently stands 26-5 on the season after winning the NJCAA Region 16 regular season title and the MCCAC Conference Championship. They were ranked #11 in the NJCAA final poll. MSU-West Plains defeated Mineral Area College in the finals 74-71 to take the Region 16 Championship. They are 25-8 on the season and will travel to play Highland CC for the District IV Title on Saturday evening.
The NJCAA National Tournament will have 16 District Champions who automatically qualify for the National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas March 19-24. The NJCAA Selection Committee will then select 8 At-Large participants from teams not qualifying and those selections will be announced on Monday, March 12 at 11:30 AM. The Greyhounds will be in contention for one of those berths.