The top-seeded Roadrunners are headed back to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national tournament for the first time since the 1975-1976 season after claiming the Region 16 tournament title March 1 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro. SFCC (24-6) defeated second-seeded Moberly Area Community College 84-70.
“This is a big accomplishment for our guys,” said Roadrunners head coach Kevin Thomas. “For them to run the table in region play and win the way they did was really gutsy. The final two games in the tournament showed the their character and how much they really wanted it.”
The Greyhounds jumped out to a 25-15 lead in the first half. SFCC cut the advantage to 38-30 at halftime and began the second half on a 16-2 run. The Roadrunners took a 46-40 advantage in the second half.
“In the second half we came out and made some shots,” said Thomas. “I thought if we got stops on the defensive end and were able to get out and run, it would be to our advantage. That really showed in the second half.”
The Greyhounds tied the game at 52 with about 11 minutes remaining. Freshman guard Dondre Alexander knocked down two huge three-point shots to make the score 58-52, and SFCC controlled the game from there.
Sophomore guard Kevin Punter led four Roadrunners in double-figure scoring with 25 points. Sophomore guard Joseph Thomasson and sophomore wing Kedar Edwards contributed 17 points each. Freshman guard Dondre Alexander added 15 points.
SFCC defeated the fourth-seeded Mineral Area College Cardinals from Park Hills 71-68 Feb. 28.
The Cardinals shot the ball well to open the game. Mineral Area led 41-34 at halftime. The Roadrunners got their offense going after halftime, taking their first lead at 48-47 with about 15 minutes remaining.
“I told our guys at halftime they (Mineral Area) were not going to continue to make shots like that,” said Thomas. “We had to move the ball better and get some better looks at the basket. Some of our guys got some good shots for us.”
Both teams continued to battle. Punter scored on a finger roll, was fouled on the play and went to the free-throw line to complete the old-fashioned three-point play. He gave his team a 65-64 lead with fewer than three minutes remaining. The Roadrunners made the plays down the stretch to secure the victory.
Punter led three Roadrunners in double-figure scoring with 21 points. Edwards registered a double double with 19 points and a team-high 12 rebounds and dished out four assists. Thomasson added 16 points, dished out a team-leading five assists and led the team with three blocked shots.
Four Roadrunners earned Region 16 honors. Punter was named to the All-Region 16 team and was voted Region Player of the Year. He becomes only the fourth Roadrunner to earn this prestigious honor and the first since 1991. Thomasson and Edwards also were named to the First Team. Alexander was named Honorable Mention. Head coach Kevin Thomas was named Region Coach of the Year.
“Having four guys on our team make the All-Region team was outstanding,” said Thomas. “The fact that Kevin and Joe were chosen as numbers one and two in the voting says a lot, because other coaches in the region did the voting. They earned it, and now they have a chance to earn All-American status. The Coach of the Year Award is given to the coach of the team that wins the region. There are a lot of people who contribute to that award; it’s not mine alone. Coach Sash had a great deal to do with that; if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are. Our players also performed well and won a lot of games this year.”
SFCC hosted a district championship game against the winner of Region 4 on March 8 at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center. The game was used for seeding purposes only, since SFCC has already clinched a spot at the national tournament because of the new rotating zone qualifier rule. The Roadrunners beat the Highland Community College Cougars, 74-54.