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NJCAA brackets 2018:   Div.I   Div.II   Div.III
Salt Lake defeats Hutchinson for NJCAA title - Mar 20, 2016

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Tyler Rawson
Salt Lake Community College twice put its index fingers to work - once over Tyler Rawson (6'10''-F)'s lips to silence a raucous Hutchinson crowd, the other as Austin Waddoups (6'2''-PG) raised his hand in the air to celebrate a first-place finish. Salt Lake captured the NJCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament championship with a 74-64 triumph over Hutchinson in the Blue Dragons' home arena on Saturday. "It's an amazing feeling," Rawson said. "A lot of blood sweat and tears all year. It's been our goal since day one to get to this stage and win it." It was Salt Lake's second title in program history. The Bruins also won in 2009. Not everyone celebrated. On the other side of the scorer's table, Hutchinson sophomore Moataz Aly fought tears. Freshman Shakur Juiston hid his own, burying his face in his jersey as teammate James Conley hung on his shoulder to offer support. "I started crying. I never like losing, ever," Juiston said. "To lose is the worst feeling. It just got the best of me." The 13th-seeded Bruins (31-8) pounced early, claiming a 42-27 halftime lead over No. 7 Hutchinson (32-5). Salt Lake pressed its lead to double digits with a 6-0 run to close the half. The Bruins were ahead by as much as 18 in the second half. The Blue Dragons, seemingly buried deep in their own grave, resurrected their chances with a furious 12-0 surge. A layup by Samajae Haynes-Jones (5'11''-PG) cut Salt Lake's lead to 66-62 with 3:09 to play. Salt Lake's Tad Dufelmeier (6'0''-PG-96) countered with two free throws to push the Bruins back up six. Sophomore Bashir Ahmed again brought the Blue Dragons within four with two free throws. "We got it back down to four twice," said Hutchinson coach Steve Eck . "If you just make a basket - if you have one guy hit a 3 - I would say it's a new ballgame and this crowd goes crazy." Salt Lake was steady. Rawson drilled a mid-range jumper to push the lead back to six. As he retreated back on defense, his finger tapped his mouth to shoosh the Sports Arena. "Amazing sound right there," Rawson said. "Awesome feeling to silence that many people." Dufelmeier once more added two more free throws for a 72-64 advantage with 1:31 left in the game. "Shoutout to my mom. She told me, 'Take your time. They're free,'" Dufelmeier said, grateful for Jo Dufelmeier's advice. "I just said it every time before them." There was nothing more Hutchinson could do to chop at the deficit. The Blue Dragons were scoreless in the final two minutes. Hutchinson shot 25 percent in the first half as it fell behind, leaving little margin for error in the final 20 minutes. The Blue Dragons were 2-for-22 from the 3-point line, missing all 10 of their attempts in the second half. Ahmed topped Hutchinson with 22 points in his final game at Hutchinson. Juiston offered a superb stat line with nine points, 13 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and two steals. When the clock expired, Waddoups ran toward his longtime teammate Rawson. The duo, both from American Fork, Utah, played in high school together. Waddoups leaped into his arms with his index finger pointing toward the rafters. The Bruins took their lumps with losses in the regular season, but a five-game win streak at nationals allowed Waddoups to proclaim his team No. 1. "To actually win a championship together, that's been our goal since day one," Rawson said. "Glad we could do it together." Conner Toolson (6'4''-F/G) topped Salt Lake with 28 points. Rawson added 16 points and 11 rebounds. The Blue Dragons appeared in the championship game for the first time since their title win in 1994. "I'm not real happy," Ahmed said. "I'm not satisfied with that, but, you know, sometimes in life you don't get anything you want."
Courtesy of:   

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