INA — Wabash Valley was cruising along with a 14-point lead over Lake Land early in the second half on Wednesday afternoon, when a technical foul really fouled things up.
“We played well until that technical,” said WVC coach Dan Sparks. “After that, we seemed to lose momentum.”
Lake Land sliced 10 points off the Warrior lead in only three minutes to pull to within four points.
But Wabash managed to stop the slide. “We stayed in the wagon and toughed it out,” said Sparks of his team’s eventual 89-76 victory which earned a berth in the semi finals of the NJCAA Region 24 tournament.
Wabash (18-13), winners in 12 of their last 15 games, plays top-seed Vincennes (29-2) tonight (Thursday) at 6 p.m. VU, ranked seventh, defeated Kaskaskia.
Tyrone Sherman and Princeton sophomore Beau Bridgland came up with some big plays down the stretch for the Warriors.
Sherman, who led the winners with 17 points, stole a pass and then hit two free throws on an intentional foul to boost the WVC lead to 70-65. A 3-point field goal with four minutes left put the Wabash lead back into double figures at 79-69. Sparks credited Sherman with playing “a really good floor game. I can’t remember if he had more than two turnovers. He penetrated when he had to and led the team.”
Bridgland, meanwhile, followed up Sherman’s 3-ball with a nifty reverse layup. And twice he took charges to slow Lake Land’s momentum. “He played good and was trying defensively to help people,” Sparks said.
The Hall of Fame coach also had high praise for Rontray Chavis, who finished with 16 points. “He played pretty smart today, and did a really good job of blocking out on the boards.”
Phillip Jackson scored 16 points for Wabash, while Alvin Braddock added 13 and Lawrence Kinney 12 points. Lake Land (19-12) was led by Devin Carter with 17 points.
WVC and Vincennes have split two games this season, with the Warriors winning the latest matchup, 83-76, on Feb. 16.
The Trailblazers survived a scare in their quarterfinal game, at one point trailing Kaskaskia by 10 points in the first half before rallying in the second half, when the Blue Devils went eight minutes at one stretch without scoring.