It was games of contrast in the opening round of the 20th Post-Journal Classic men's basketball tournament on Saturday.
In the first game, the host Jamestown Community College Jayhawks (8-5) coasted to a 92-63 win over the Westmoreland County Wolfpack (6-5) from Youngwood, Pa.
The second game was the opposite as the Monroe CC Tribunes (12-1) from Rochester hung on to edge the Columbus State CC Cougars (7-4) from Columbus, Ohio, 72-69.
Michael Forrest of Jamestown Community College puts up a fallaway jumper against Westmoreland County CC during the opening game of The Post-Journal Classic on Saturday. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
JCC will play Monroe in the championship game at 2 p.m. today and the Jayhawks will be seeking their third straight title and eighth overall in the 20 years of the event.
Westmoreland County and Columbus State will play in the consolation game at noon.
The Jayhawks had a 32-point lead after 15 minutes of play to coast to the win.
''We came out and we had a game plan of how to defend their offense and we did do it, we just didn't do it for forty (minutes),'' Cordovano said. ''We got a lead and we just lost our 'sticktoitness.' So in the second half it just got to be trade baskets.''
He added, ''I'm thinking now I'm not too excited about our chances tomorrow (against Monroe) because we didn't play forty. I am pleased we won, I'm pleased we got everybody to play and they got to play some solid minutes. But our effort was in and out all night at either end.''
Westmoreland County scored the first basket of the game, but that wasn't a sign of things to come. JCC ran off 10 straight points and there were more on the way.
The Jayhawks were leading 12-8 with 14:45 left in the first half when they ran off 29 straight points for a 33-point lead, 41-8, with five minutes left in the half.
Unlike in past games when JCC sometimes was scoring mainly with 3-pointers, the Jayhawks hadn't hit a trey.
''I think it was easier for us to get to the basket,'' Cordovano said. ''I do like our three-point shooting, but sometimes I think we shoot the three a little quick. We run a dribble-drive offense and it starts with a dribble-drive and today we got to the basket a lot easier than we have in some games, so it didn't allow for threes.''
After being held scoreless for 10 minutes, the Wolfpack finally scored a bucket by Andy Carter, who had been held scoreless, and he went on to score seven straight points in a run of 10 unanswered points.
Carter being scoreless for so long was important because he came into the game ranked No. 2 in NJCAA Division III scoring with a 28.2 average and Cordovano admitted his team, which plays in Division II, was keying on him.
''He's the second-leading scorer in Division III and keeping him off the board was huge and I've got to hand that to Michael Forrest,'' Cordovano said about his sophomore who transferred from Monroe. ''He got his first start tonight and he's usually our first guy off the bench and I thought he did a nice job defensively on that kid because he's a scorer. He's a smart player. He's not a three-point shooter, he scores his baskets the smart way, off the board and getting up in the air with the ball. Michael did a nice job and made that kid's life miserable.''
JCC outscored Westmoreland County, 8-4, for the rest of the half for a 51-22 halftime lead.
In the second half for the Jayhawks, it was mainly a case of just getting through the final 20 minutes with no one getting injured and looking ahead to the championship game today. Though never in position to lose its lead, JCC outscored the Wolfpack only 43-41 in the second half and Carter had 20 points for the WCCC.
''The game was pretty much over at halftime and we played the second half as if it was over,'' Cordovano said. ''And that was disappointing because we could use a good 20 minutes to get one of these two teams (Columbus State or Monroe) tomorrow.''
Tyreek Jewel, who came in the game 12th in Division II scoring with a 21.9 average, led JCC with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and four steals while Newell and Davonte Dunham, who is eighth in Division II with a 23.0 average, had 16 each. Kenny Stokes and Forrest had 12 each.
Cordovano was very pleased with the performance of Newell, his tallest player at 6-foot-7.
''Ed had a good game and I hope with this success tonight he gets some confidence and he can be a factor in our games,'' he said. ''We only play one big kid and we just need Ed to keep progressing each game. The last two games he's shown a lot of improvement and hopefully that will lead into a solid game tomorrow.''
And with Monroe the opponent, he added, ''Tomorrow will be a completely different story.''
Carter was the only double-figure scorer for the Wolfpack with 29 points and he also led in rebounding with eight.
In contrast to the opening game, the second game was a seesaw affair.
Columbus State jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but Monroe, which is No. 2 in the NJCAA Division II rankings, tied the game at 15-15 with 12:30 left in the first half. The Tribunes managed to take an eight-point lead, but it was down to six at halftime, 37-31.
In the second half, Monroe again moved in front by eight only to find the Cougars battling back.
When asked how often he thought his team finally had the game in control, Tribunes coach Jerry Burns said, ''About three times. Three times I thought we had them and it was either one or two turnovers or a breakdown on the defensive end to give up an easy basket. But they played hard, they were entergetic. They're a good team.''
With 1:08 left to play, Columbus State tied the game at 69-69.
With 33.9 left, TaQuan Zimmerman of Monroe made the second on a two-shot foul to give his team a one-point lead.
After a Columbus State turnover, Tashawn Desir was fouled and made a pair of foul shots with 22.5 left to give Monroe a 72-69 lead.
The Cougars had a chance to tie the game when Kenrick Williams missed a 3-point attempt with 6.5 seconds left and then got the ball back and missed another with one second remaining.
''He was wide open,'' Burns said. ''Luckily the basketball gods shined down on us.''
Columbus State coach Pat Carlisle said, ''He had great looks, our best shooter, he scored 25 tonight. He was 10 of 15 on the night and two of his misses were there''
Playing in close games is familiar for each team.
''We've played four or five games like this so far,'' Burns said referring to wins by two points over Erie CC, three over Lakeland CC, four over Hagerstown CC and Herkimer County CC and six over Monroe College.
When asked if playing those close games helped on Saturday night, Burns said, ''No doubt. I've had some teams when you get into those situations and you're looking at them during a timeout at the end of a game, they looked scared and nobody wants the basketball. This year we've got some guys who want to go get it.''
For Westmoreland County, it was the third straight Saturday with a close defeat. In the previous two, the Wolfpack fell to Sullivan CC by three and Danville CC by two.
Desire led Monroe with 14 points while Arnold Fripp had 13 and Dallas Gary 11.
After Williams' 25 points for Westmoreland County, Mohamed Condo had 18 and Orlando Berry 12.
WESTMORELAND COUNTY (63)
Szatkowski 1 2-3 4, Storkel 1 1-1 3, Carter 11 7-7 29, Cochran 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 4-4 4, EMcKlveen 2 0-0 5, CMcKlveen 2 1-2 5, JoWillams 4 0-1 9, Fowler 1 0-0 2, Walls-Mitchell 1 0-0 2, Totals 23 15-7 63.
Dunham 7 0-0 16, Walker 2 0-0 4, Reyes 2 0-0 4, Newell 7 2-2 16, Jewell 7 4-6 20, Forrest 6 0-0 12, Bentham 0 0-0 0, Stokes 5 0-0 12, JaWilliams 1 0-0 2, Sterling 3 0-0 6, Garrett 0 0-0 0, Totals 40 6-8 92.
Halftime-JCC 49, Westmoreland County 22. 3-point goals-EMcKlveen, JoWilliams, Dunham 2, Jewell 2, Stokes 2. Total fouls-Westmoreland County 10, JCC 16.
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COLUMBUS STATE (69)
KerWilliams 10 4-4 25, Condo 8 2-5 18, Berry 3 6-7 12, Bond 0 0-0 0, Lucas 0 0-0 0, Wilkins 3 3-5 9, Tyus 2 0-0 4, Hopewell 0 0-0 0, Totals 26 16-23 69.
Desir 5 2-2 14, KenJohnson 1 2-2 4, Josiah 4 4-6 13, Zimmerman 2 1-6 5, Hector 0 0-0 0, Gary 3 4-8 11, McNair 3 0-0 7, GWilliams 1 0-0 3, Fripp 6 1-1 13, Berry 1 0-1 2, Totals 26 14-26 72.
Halftime-Monroe 37, Columbus State 31. 3-point goals-KerWilliams, Desir 2, Josiah, Gary, McNair. Total fouls-Columbus State 23, Monroe 17. Fouled out-Tyus.