March 18, 2014
DANVILLE—The Carl Sandburg College men’s basketball team gave No. 2 seed Wayne County (Mich.) all it could handle, but the Wildcats held on the beat the Chargers 56-53 in the first round of the NJCAA Division II national tournament on Tuesday morning at Mary Miller Gymnasium.
The Chargers (18-15) will play in the consolation bracket at 3 p.m. Wednesday against Potomac State (W. Va.). The Catamounts lost their first-round game 93-88 in overtime against Wake Tech (N.C.).
Trailing 56-53 with 10.4 seconds left, Sandburg got two chances at a game-tying 3-pointer from the corner by sophomore guard Aaron Powers (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier), but both were off the mark.
“We got two great looks at the basket,” Chargers coach Ryan Twaddle said. “You can’t ask for anything more. The ball either goes in or it doesn’t.”
Paul Standtke’s putback for Wayne County with :50 to go broke a 55-55 tie and proved to be the game-winner.
Making their first appearance at nationals, the Chargers trailed 26-8 before scoring six of the final eight points in the first half to go into the locker room down 28-14. Wayne County matched its largest lead at 34-16 with 17:50 to play before Sandburg staged its rally.
“We kept our composure,” Twaddle said. “We didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and we didn’t panic. We knew it was going to be a game of runs like our region championship against Olive-Harvey.”
An 8-0 Chargers run capped by a 3-pointer from freshman guard Vince Gooden (Markham, Ill./Tinley Park) got the Sandburg deficit under double figures for the first time, at 38-31 with 11:30 left. Gooden finished with five 3s and 15 points — all in the second half — on 5-of-11 shooting.
“He does that quite a bit for us,” Twaddle said. “He’s a shooter, and once he hits one you know he’s going to hit another. Vince hit some shots for us, and that opened things up for us a little bit inside.”
Sandburg continued to chip away and took its first lead since 5-3 when sophomore guard Juwan Hubbard (Rockford, Ill./Guilford), who had a game-high 19 points and matched Powers for the team lead with nine rebounds, drained two free throws at 4:46 to make it 48-47.
Wayne County answered with a 3-pointer from Tyrie Flowers on the ensuing possession. Another 3 by Flowers at 3:36 made it 53-48 Wayne County, but the Chargers tied it with a 3 by Gooden followed by a layup from sophomore forward Mitch Wendling (Athens, Ill./Athens) off a Gooden assist at 1:17 prior to Standtke’s go-ahead basket.
“We proved we belong here,” Twaddle said. “I think it took our guys a while to believe that themselves, but we went toe to toe with the No. 2 seed and almost took them down. We’re not done here yet. We still have something to play for, and we’re going to do that tomorrow.”
Carl Sandburg College sophomore guard Juwan Hubbard puts a shot over Wayne County (Mich.) defender Paul Standtke during the first half of the opening NJCAA Division II national tournament at Danville Area Community College on Tuesday morning. The Chargers came up short against the Wildcats 56-53.