March 19, 2014
DANVILLE—The Carl Sandburg College men’s basketball team held a second-half lead, but Potomac State (W. Va.) rallied to beat the Chargers 83-70 and eliminate them from the NJCAA Division II national tournament in a consolation bracket quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon at Mary Miller Gymnasium.
The Catamounts (21-9) will play in the consolation semifinals at 11 a.m. Friday against the winner of the consolation quarterfinal at 9 a.m. Thursday between St. Louis and Dean (Mass.).
The Chargers (18-16) scored four straight points to open the second half and build a 42-36 advantage, but Potomac State scored 13 of the next 14 to take a lasting lead. Marcus Banks, who hit 7 of 10 3-pointers and scored a game-high 33 points, and Reggie Baker (20 points) had 11 of the Catamounts’ points during that stretch.
Sandburg trailed 61-54 with 5:44 left when sophomore guard Zach Ziemba (Emden, Ill./Hartsburg-Emden) was whistled for a foul that was ruled a flagrant foul after officials reviewed the play on a monitor.
“The national tournament is such a great stage, but you get in spots where you see things you’ve never seen before,” Chargers coach Ryan Twaddle said. “We made some mental mistakes and saw some things we’d never seen before, but if we take care of the basketball we don’t have to chase them down the court.”
Sandburg trailed 36-26 when Banks hit his sixth 3-pointer with 5:38 left in the first half, but the Chargers closed the period on a 12-0 run. Sophomore forward Matt Sagona (Knoxville, Ill./Knoxville) opened the burst with a 3-pointer from the right corner, and sophomore forward Jeremy Brown (Chillicothe, Ill./Illinois Valley Central) capped it with a 3 from the left corner to give the Chargers a 38-36 lead at the break.
“A lot of people worry about how teams will respond playing after a tough loss like we had yesterday, but that was never in doubt for us,” Twaddle said. “Our kids are tough kids. I thought we came out with a lot of energy.”
Sophomore forward Aaron Powers (Springfield, Ill./Lanphier) led the Chargers with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Sophomore guard Juwan Hubbard (Rockford, Ill./Guilford) added 19 points and matched Brown for the team lead with seven rebounds. Freshman guard Vince Gooden (Markham, Ill./Tinley Park) finished with 13 points for Sandburg.
The game marked the final contest as Chargers for sophomores Hubbard, Ziemba, Powers, Brown, Sagona, Jacob Warner and Mitch Wendling. They finished their careers at Sandburg with an overall record of 37-28, helped the Chargers win their first Region IV District A tournament championship and reached to the national tournament for the first time in program history.
“Our seven sophomores have made a huge mark on our program, and they left something for other teams to shoot for,” Twaddle said. “It’s great to get to the national tournament for the first time ever, but now we want this to be a regular occurrence. Our goal now is to get back here again and do even better.”
Carl Sandburg College sophomore Aaron Powers is sandwiched by Potomac State players as teammate Juwan Hubbard looks on during the second half of the Chargers' 83-70 loss to end their season in the NJCAA Division II national tournament Wednesday afternoon at Mary Miller Gymnasium.