EFSC Titans Basketball Reach Final Four Of NJCAA DI Tourney, Break School Record For Wins In A Season
By Michael Parsons, Eastern Florida State College // March 24, 2017
Ali scores career high 28 points, Titans D allows season low 45 points in victory
HUTCHINSON, KANSAS – It was a historic night for the Eastern Florida State College men’s basketball team in Hutchinson, Kansas.
The Titans defeated Motlow State Community College 65-45 in the Elite Eight of the NJCAA Division I National Championship Tournament Thursday night to advance to the Final Four.
The win was No. 30 on the season for Eastern Florida State College, which is a school record.
“It’s a spectacular feeling to be in the Final Four,” Eastern Florida State College men’s basketball coach Jeremy Shulman said.
“In the process, we have had basketball for over 70 years here and we just set an all-time school record with 30 wins in a season. That’s a real, real special thing to me.”
The 45 points was a season low in points allowed for the Titans, eclisping the 48-points they allowed in a win over Atlanta Metropolitan back in late December.
EFSC once again came out in the second half with a stifling defense, holding Motlow State to just eight points in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
As a result, EFSC’s five point halftime lead grew to 29-points with a little over six minutes to play.
Eli Abaev grabbed 10 rebounds in the contest as the Titans held Motlow to a paltry 15-63 from the floor, 23.8 percent shooting on the night.
“These guys, I am so blessed to be able to coach these guys. They are doing a tremendous job of coming out in the second half and guarding people,” Shulman said.
— NJCAA TV (@NJCAATV) March 23, 2017
ABOVE VIDEO: The steal and the flush—–NJCAA TV—Kareem Brewton stealing the ball and finishing vs. Motlow on Thursday night.
Freshman Ahmed Ali continued to be the Titans top scorer in Hutchinson, as he produced a career night shooting the basketball.
The Toronto native drilled eight of his 11 attempts from beyond the arc, finishing with more points in the game, 28 than Motlow scored in either half, 20 and 25.
“The team did a good job of getting me the ball and I felt so confident. As soon as the ball left my hand I felt confident it was going in,” Ali said.
“I had my brother and my (former) coach in the stands for the first time, so it was special.” He also gave credit to teammate Kareem Brewton who finished with 11 points.
Ali scored 22-points in the Titans win over Monroe on Wednesday night and has 50 total in two tournament games.
“Kareem did a really good job of telling me all night when we were getting back on defense ‘Ahmed just keep going, keep making them.”
“I was just in the zone, I didn’t even care what was going on, I was just playing defense and the next time down he was saying shoot it.”
He did just that tonight, sending the Titans to the Final Four.
EFSC will now face the No.2 seed, South Plains College in the second semifinal at 9 p.m. EDT tonight.
The Texans are the top remaining seed in the NJCAA DI National Tournament after the top seeded San-Jacento Gators lost to the Northwest Florida State Raiders, a team the Titans defeated twice this season and as recent as two weeks ago in the Region VIII Tournament.
Unlike Motlow State, who relied heavily on freshman, the Texans of South Plains College use sophomores.
SPC finished the year 32-1 with the one blemish occurring back on March 10 in their conference tournament.
They are coached by 17-year veteran and NJCAA Basketball Hall of Famer, Steve Green.
During his tenure at SPC, Green has led the Texans to six conference titles, five regional championships, six national tournament appearances, and two national titles .
Sophomore Jordan Brangers, leads the team in scoring with 21 points per game this season.
He also hit the game winner to on Thursday to help advance is team. Trailing 67-66 with 10.4 seconds remaining, Brangers took a pass from Josh Webster at midcourt up the left wing, rose up from 34-feet and drained a 3-ball with 5.3 ticks left
Th bucket gave the Texans a 69-67 win over Vincennes.
ABOVE VIDEO: South Plains vs. Vincennes – March 23, 2017 – 2017 NJCAA National Tournament – Hutchinson, Kansas.
SPC also has three other starters, Roberto Gallinat, Jahlil Tripp and Grantham Gillard that averaged double digit points per game this past year.
With the top seed gone and plenty of upsets and come from behind wins in Hutchinson, March Madness is in full swing. In fact, none of the Final Four teams were automatic qualifiers.
All received one of the only four available at large bids.
Northwest Florida State College will face Hutchinson Community College in the first semifinal tonight at 6 p.m.
“It is sweet to be in the Final Four right now” Shulman said.
“What an honor to be here with an amazing group of people, not just the players but the caching staff and everyone that is involved with the program.”
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