[ By STEVE CARPENTER ]
[ BLUE DRAGON SPORTS INFORMATION ]
PARK CITY, Kan. — The 2019 Region VI Men’s Tournament championship game was one of runs. Unfortunately for the Hutchinson Community College men’s basketball team, Seward County had the final run.
Leading by nine points with 7:02 to play in the second half, No. 3-seed Hutchinson quickly saw that cushion disappear as top-ranked Seward County answered with a quick run and finished the Blue Dragons off with an 11-4 run in the final minutes.
Hutchinson suffered an 81-76 loss to the Saints at Hartman Arena in Park City. Appearing in seven consecutive Region V I Tournament championship games, the Dragons have dropped four in a row. Seward County defeated the Blue Dragons three times this season and won its sixth regional crown and first since 2012.
The Blue Dragons fall to 26-8 and now will await the NJCAA Selection Show on Monday to see if they qualify for a fifth-straight NJCAA Tournament.
James Rojas, who scored 108 points in Hutchinson’s four tournament games, earned All-Tournament honors, as well as freshmen Boubacar Kamissoko and Malique Jacobs.
Rojas posted his second double-double of the season with a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds. Rojas was 10 of 18 shooting overall with a career-high four 3-point goals in eight attempts. He also added four assists.
The Blue Dragons had several leads against the Saints, but couldn’t sustain momentum.
A Rojas layup gave Hutch a 20-10 lead at the 11:12 mark of the first half. The Saints countered with a 16-3 run to lead 26-23 with 6:31 remaining in the first half.
The Dragons used an 8-0 run early in the second half to lead 50-41 with 14:25 to play. Rojas scored back-to-back inside to bump the Dragon lead to nine. Seward County responded with a 15-6 run to knot the score at 56-all with 8:41 left.
Hutch immediately retaliated with a 9-0 run capped by a D.J. Mitchell 3-pointer and a Jacobs floater in the lane to lead 65-56 with 7:02 remaining in the game. A 7-0 run pulled the Saints within one. Rheaquone Taylor scored for a 67-63 Hutch lead with 5:43 left. Seward extended that run top 13-2 to take a 70-67 lead with 4:15 left after a Reggie Miller 3-pointer.
The Dragons led 72-70 with 2:17 left after a Rojas 3-pointer and two free throws on the next possession. Seward took the lead for good on an Isiah Small three-point play with 2:01 to play. Seward County closed the game on an 11-4 run to finish off the Blue Dragons.
Both teams played tough defense in the championship game.
The Blue Dragons shot 38.8 percent overall (26 of 67), but hit 10 of 24 3-pointers and 14 of 19 from the free-throw line.
Mitchell was the only other Blue Dragon to score in double figures with 11 points, hitting 3 of 9 from 3-point range. Saquan Singleton had nine points and five assists. Tyler Brown nailed 3 of 4 from 3-point range for nine points and Taylor had nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Saints shot 39.7 percent overall (27 of 68), going 4 of 20 from distance and 23 of 33 from the free-throw line.
Seward’s three-headed monster of Montrevion Flowers, Marco Morency and Small combined for 61 points. Flowers had 22 points and eight rebounds. Morency finished with 21 points and Small had 18 points.
The Blue Dragons out-rebounded Seward County 48-42, but had six more turnovers with 18 miscues. Seward had a 25-19 advantage in points off turnovers.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are 137-48 all-time in the Region VI Tournament and now 18-10 in the championship game. … The Dragons still lead the all-time series with Seward County 76-31, but are 1-5 in Region VI games. … James Rojas moved into 24th place on the Blue Dragon career scoring list with 934 points. … This was Rojas’ 13th 20-point game of the season. … Hutch lost its first game of the season when leading at halftime.