Unranked going into the National Junior College Athletic Association Region V tournament, the South Plains College men’s basketball team needed to perform at their best to advance to the national tournament.
The Texans did just that, going undefeated through the regional event and advancing to the National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas, where they continued their streak and claimed the championship, the third for a college celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
“We thought that we were good enough at the beginning of the season,” said head basketball coach Steve Green. “We had a lot of setbacks and injuries. I felt like we always had the potential to win it, but things had to fall into place.”
At the beginning of the second half of the championship game on March 24, freshman Keith McGee hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to seven for SPC with 18:21 remaining.
Southern Idaho went on an 11-2 run to take the lead back from SPC at 61-59 with 16:01 remaining in the contest.
SPC was down 71-67 with 14 minutes left in the game, but the Texans responded with a 5-0 run in a two-minute span to re-take the lead after a layup from McGee.
A three-pointer from Charles Jones Jr. put Southern Idaho up by three with 11:37 left, before Isaiah Maurice hit a floater to put the Texans back on top with nine minutes remaining in the game.
Deshawn Corprew, a 6-foot-6 forward who has committed to Texas Tech University, put SPC ahead 82-77 after a floater with 5:57 to go. Danya Kingsby brought Southern Idaho to within four after a pair of free throws with 1:35 left in the game.
Corprew grabbed a rebound and went on to convert a layup with under 50 seconds left. SPC held off Southern Idaho in the final seconds to secure the national championship.
Corprew led the scoring for SPC with a team-high 21 points. He hit seven of his 14 attempts from the floor, including 7-for-7 from the three-point line.
Maurice contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Chris Orlina recorded his third double double of the season, tossing in 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
SPC shot 50 percent from the field and 77.8 percent from the free-throw line for the contest.
“The guys just played together,” said Green. “They shared the ball, and they were a very cohesive group and started playing to the strengths. Ben Perez made timely shots, Deshawn Corprew became the player everyone expected him to be, Isaiah shot a tremendous percentage and rebounded, and Keith McGee continued to get better and better each game, and he kind of directed the show. Jamir Coleman came off the bench against East Florida and gave us 10 points. Everyone that participated I think played the best they had played all season.”
The Texans advanced to the championship game following an 89-76 victory in a semifinal contest against Eastern Florida State on March 23.
Orlina hit a three-pointer to take a 5-4 lead over Eastern Florida State in the early minutes of the first half. SPC would not give up the lead for the remainder of the game, leading by as many as 17 points in the second half.
The Texans were without their two leading scorers in the game, as Maurice had to serve a one-game suspension after receiving two technical fouls against Connors State on March 22, and sophomore Jordan Brangers did not make the trip to Kansas after suffering a leg injury.
“We had been without Isaiah and Jordan over the course of the season,” said Green. “Going through some difficulty and injuries at the beginning of the year prepared us for later on. We also had a lot of guys step up.”
SPC had six players score in double digits and shot 54.2 percent from the floor. McGee led all scorers with 24 points, hitting eight of his 15 shots from the field.
Orlina recorded his second consecutive double-double, chipping in 16 points and 10 rebounds. Raymond Doby stepped in for Maurice and contributed 12 points and five rebounds. He was 5-of-8 from the field in his 30 minutes on the court.
The Texans pulled out a 79-78 victory against fourth-seeded Salt Lake Community College on March 21.
SPC led 37-34 at the end of the first half. Maurice extended the lead to five with a layup eight seconds into the second half. SLCC answered with a 9-0 run, taking a 43-41 lead with 17:46 minutes left to play.
McGee took back the lead for the Texans with a floater with under 15 minutes to go. He then flicked a pass to Ben Perez, who knocked down a three-pointer to put SPC up 52-47 with 12:24 to go. Perez later added a three-pointer from the right with 11 minutes left to play.
The final four minutes of the game included four lead changes. SPC trailed 78-74 with less than a minute to play before Perez hit a three-pointer to shave the Bruins’ lead to one point.
A failed three-point attempt from Salt Lake City enabled the Texans to take the lead in the final seconds. Corprew was fouled by Hunter Schofield and was sent to the free-throw line. With SPC trailing 78-77, Corprew knocked down two free throws to take the lead with just eight seconds left in the game.
A final attempt by the Bruins to win the game came and went with a three-point attempt by Dalven Brushier, which bounced off the side of the rim as the last seconds of the game ran out.
SPC shot 40 percent from the field and 44 percent from the three-point line in the second half. Maurice led all scorers with 22 points and seven rebounds, hitting 10 of his 16 attempts from the field. Perez finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists. He hit six of his 13 attempts from the field, including five of his nine attempts from the three-point line.
McGee finished the night with 15 points, five assists, and four steals. Orlina tossed in 11 points, while Corprew added seven points and grabbed six rebounds.
In the opening round of the NJCAA national tournament on March 19, the Texans got rolling with a 91-71 victory against Highland Community College.
SPC began the contest with a 12-0 run, which was capped off with a layup from Corprew with 14:36 left to play in the first half. Highland bounced back during the next three minutes. Shareef Smith hit a three-pointer that trimmed the Texans’ lead to 15-11 with 11:35 left in the first half.
Smith hit another three-pointer that pulled Highland within two points of SPC with less than nine minutes in the half. The Texans pushed the lead back to six with a pair of free throws from Orlina.
With less than a minute left in the half, Doby hit two free throws that extended the lead to 10 going into the intermission.
Highland rallied in the early minutes of the second half, closing the gap to five points. Jay’Quan McCloud then hit a three-pointer to bring Highland within two points with 16:24 left in the game.
The Texans responded with an 11-2 run, pushing their lead to 56-45 after a pair of free throws from Perez with 13:21 left in regulation play.
SPC went on to lead by as many as 21 points in the last minutes of the game, shooting 56.3 percent from the floor in the second half and 43.5 percent from the three-point line.
McGee scored 12 points and had nine assists for the Texans. Orlina added 11 points and grabbed five rebounds. William Washington and Doby combined to add 12 points and eight rebounds.
“We changed nothing,” Green said. “We continued doing the things we’ve always done, and I think that the players realized it’s now or never. We got off to good starts in a lot of the games. When we fell behind, we never got rattled. If you don’t win today, you don’t play tomorrow. I think that sense of urgency finally took hold.”
SPC advanced to the National Tournament after winning all three games in the NJCAA Region V Tournament, which was held March 7 – March 10 at Frenship High School in Wolfforth.
The Texans topped Odessa College, a Western Junior College Athletic Conference rival, 101-92 in the Regional Championship game on March 10. Overcoming a 12-1 deficit in the early minutes of the first half, SPC rallied behind 26 points from Corprew.
SPC advanced to the Region V championship following an 85-76 victory against McLennan Community College. Sophomore Jordan Brangers tied his own SPC school record with 10 three-pointers in the contest on March 9.
The Texans opened play in the Region V event with a 89-75 victory against Ranger College. SPC jumped out to an early 15-4 lead in the first half, and Ranger never recovered. SPC led by as many as 14 points throughout the game.
“I felt like if we had just gotten to the region finals that we were deserving of an at-large bid,” said Green. “but winning the regional tournament automatically qualifies you for the