JACKSONVILLE, Texas - Blinn College men's basketball fell just short of the Region XIV championship game despite outscoring Kilgore College in the second half. Kilgore eliminated Blinn from the NJCAA Region XIV Tournament by the score of 63-60 on Friday night at the John Alexander Gymnasium.
"We had a tremendous season and I am very proud to be the head basketball coach of Blinn College with student athletes like we had this year," Scott Schumacher said. "We played a tremendous game tonight and fought until the very end, but just came up a little bit short."
With the loss, Blinn ends the season with a 20-12 overall record and went 9-10 in Region XIV regular season play.
Three Buccaneers posted double-digit points as Markques Houston led the way with 19 points, Tony Lewis followed with 13 and Tyrus Grayson recorded 10. Antione Lister led the Buccaneers on defense with eight rebounds, while also posting four assists. Curtlon Wesley and Houston each recorded seven rebounds, while Houston also came up with three steals.
Blinn outscored Kilgore 36 to 35 in the second half as Lewis led the Buccaneers with 11 points in the final 20 minutes. The Buccaneers trailed 28-24 heading into the second half, but evened the score 28-28 after Houston and Lister each scored in the first minute. Antony Rice jumped in with a three-pointer and Lewis followed with a layup and a free throw for Blinn to lead 34-31 with 17:45 remaining. However Kilgore charged back to outscore Blinn 16 to nine and lead 50-40 with 8:52 left to play. Wesley kept Blinn alive after leading the Buccaneers with four points on an 8-2 run as Blinn gained on Kilgore 52-48. With the clock ticking and less than a minute remaining, Kae'ron Baker and Houston combined for four straight points for Blinn to trail 59-58. Kilgore scored a layup and made one free throw after being fouled to pull ahead by four points with six seconds left. Rice scored the final two points for Blinn before the Buccaneers fell, 63-60.
The Buccaneers came out strong in the first as Lister and Houston made two shots from downtown in the first three minutes of play. With 12:50 left until the break, Blinn and Kilgore were even at 8-8 until Kilgore took off on a 7-2 run. Lewis sparked the offense after going 2-for-2 behind the free-throw line to begin a 7-0 run for Blinn. With 2:19 left in the half Blinn evened the score 23-23 after Houston, who led Blinn in the half with 10 points, sunk a three-pointer. Kilgore hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to lead 28-24 at the break.
The Buccaneers defeated Angelina College in the Region XIV quarterfinals to open the tournament before falling to Kilgore. Kilgore will go on to play Tyler Junior College in the Region XIV championship.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 36 NJCAA national championships since 1987.