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March 3, 2013BLUE DRAGONS ADVANCE AFTER HARD-FOUGHT VICTORY OVER NW TECH
The Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team survived a 3-point barrage and one of the best individual performances by an opposing player this season to defeat Northwest Kansas Technical College 90-82 in the opening round of the 2013 Region VI Tournament on Saturday night at the Sports Arena.
The Blue Dragons (28-3) advance to the Region VI quarterfinals where they will play host to Cloud County for the third time this season at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Sports Arena.
Northwest Tech (16-15) showed why it was the highest-scoring team in Region VI this season, scoring 90-plus points in each of their four games entering play on Saturday night. The Mavericks nearly pulled off the upset of the NJCAA fifth-ranked Blue Dragons by out-gunning HCC 11-1 from 3-point range. Northwest Tech was 11 of 23 from behind the arc.
Seemingly with a defensive hand in his face all night, Maverick guard Gian Clavell dazzled by pouring in a game-high 34 points on 12 of 21 shooting, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
With that going for the Mavericks, Hutchinson saw a nine-point first half lead and a seven-point second-half lead quickly disappear in a game that featured 14 lead changes and 10 ties.
Trailing 76-75 with 5:38 to play, the Blue Dragons gained control of the game, forcing three-straight turnovers in an 8-0 run over a span of 1 minute, 4 seconds. After a Kadeem Allen dunk following a Tech turnover, HCC led 83-76. The Mavericks surged once more to pull within three with 3:17 to go, but HCC finished the game with a 7-2 run.
The Blue Dragons were able to offset the Tech 3-point barrage with a steady diet of getting the ball inside. The Dragons shot 53.6 percent (37 of 69), going 1 of 4 from 3-point range and 15 of 24 from the foul line.
Sophomore forward Alex Davis poured in a career-high 27 points with a career-best 11 field goals on 19 shots. Davis also had seven rebounds and six blocked shots. Davis ties Aaron Pettway for the HCC career blocked shots record with 151.
Sophomore A.J. Spencer posted his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds with six assists, two blocks and a steal. Spencer had nine second-half points on three putbacks and the only HCC 3-pointer of the game.
Allen finished with 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. D'Von Campbell tallied 13 points, five assists and two steals. Sophomore Rozell Nunn had an impactful nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
The Blue Dragons had 25 assists - the second most this season - with four players dishing out a minimum of five assists. HCC out-rebounded the Mavericks 41-36 and turned the ball over only 11 times.
With 10 blocked shots in the game, the 2013 Blue Dragons broke the team record for total blocked shots with 168.
Northwest Tech shot 44.3 percent for the game (31 of 70). The Mavericks were 9 of 11 from the foul line and turned the ball over 16 times.
Backing Clavell's dazzling effort, Markees Walker had 11 points, while Nicholas Riley and Talan Whitaker with 10 points each.
Both teams shot nearly 60 percent for a majority of a wild first half. The Dragons scored the first four points and didn't relinquish the lead for the first 10 minutes of the game. Leading 15-12, HCC went on a 6-0 run with a Spencer bucket, Allen's dunk and an athletic Campbell drive to the hoop to lead 21-12 with 14:04 to play. The teams traded buckets and the lead with 23-14 with 12:40 remaining.
That lead shrunk to two points in a matter of 55 seconds as Tech reeled off seven in a row and when Luis Ortiz bombed a 3-pointer from about 24 feet, the Mavericks had their first lead at 28-27 with 10:01 to play in the half.
The teams traded leads six more times over the next eight minutes. Down 43-42, Campbell scored five-straight points to give HCC a 47-43 lead and start an 8-0 HCC run. Two more Campbell free throws with 1:08 to go upped the lead to 50-43 lead. Clavell scored with 50 seconds left and HCC took a 50-45 lead into halftime. Hutchinson shot 57.9 percent and Tech shot 50 percent in the opening half with six 3-pointers.
The scoring pace slowed greatly over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Leading 56-53, a Nunn layup and two Allen free throws pushed the Dragon lead to 60-53 with 14:05 to go. That lead disappeared in 1 minute, 17 seconds as a Walker 3-pointer gave Tech a 61-60 lead with 12:52 to go.
Northwest Tech wasn't able build more than a one-possession lead on Hutchinson in the second half. Tied at 68-all, the Mavericks appeared to be gaining momentum, but Spencer canned HCC's only 3-pointer with 7:48 remaining.
The lead changed hands four more times over the next two minutes. Two Clavell free throws gave Tech a 76-75 lead, but Campbell countered with two free throws for a 77-76 lead with 5:18 to go.
HCC then forced three-straight Maverick turnovers and HCC cashed in each time with a Spencer putback, Campbell transition layup and an Allen transition dunk to give Hutchinson an 83-76 lead with 4:14 to go.
Whittaker and Riley scored back-to-back hoops for Tech to pull within 83-80 with 3:17 to go. HCC finished off the Mavericks with a game-closing 7-2 run. Nunn's dunk with 25 seconds left pushed the margin to a three-possession game.
GAME NOTES - HCC is now 117-43 all-time in 59 Region VI Tournament appearances. The Blue Dragons are 51-8 in Region VI openers. This was all-time win No. 1,625 for HCC. HCC's 90 points were the most scored by the Dragons in an opening-round game since 2000 against Fort Scott. The 172 combined points were the most since 2000 vs. Fort Scott (176). Head coach Steve Eck is now 75-9 at the Sports Arena and 35-11 in games decided by nine points or less. Alex Davis tied Aaron Pettway for the career blocked shots record with 151. The 2013 Blue Dragons broke the team blocked shots record with 168. HCC is 21-1 at the Sports Arena this year. The Dragons are 23-2 when leading at halftime. HCC is 16-1 when scoring 80 or more points. This was the sixth time HCC has reached the 90-point mark and 14th time that HCC has shot better than 50 percent in a game. HCC's 37 field goals tied a season high for the third time this season. The 25 assists were the second most this season. The 10 blocked shots were the second most in a game this season. .. This was the first time in 2012-13 that four different players - Nunn, 7; Spencer, 6; Allen, 6; Campbell, 5 - with five or more assists. Gian Clavell's 34 points surpassed Dodge City's Vic Adams for an individual high point total. Clavell's five 3-pointers tied an opponent high. Northwest Tech's 11 3-pointers tied Trinidad State's 11 3's for an opponent team high. Alex Davis had his fifth game with five or more blocked shots.