VIDEO: Eastern Florida State Titans Fall In Finals Of NJCAA DI National Basketball Tournament

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31 Wins new program record, only graduating 3 sophomores

ABOVE VIDEO: NJCAA LIVESTREAM REPLAY: Eastern Florida State vs. Hutchinson Kansa in NJCAA DI Finals.

HUTCHINSON, KANSAS – The Eastern Florida State College men’s basketball team’s run ended Saturday night, losing to the hometown Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons in the NJCAA Division I National Championship Game.

The Titans never got on track in the first half as Hutchinson led from start to finish, winning the title 84-58 in front of a nearly sold out Hutchinson Arena.

Before a sell out crowd, all pro Blue Gators, the Titans couldn’t get a shot to fall.

Hutchinson strugled in the games first two minutes and scohad tred their points of the contest from the charity stripe.

The Titans cut the lead to 8-4 but that’s as close as they got the rest of the night.

EFSC missed their next 10 shots from various areas of the floor and in the blink of an eye, a 13-2 run by Hutchinson made the score 21-6 with a little over eight minutes to play in the opening half.

The Titans held Blue Dragon star sophomore forward Shakur Juiston in check during the games first 20 minutes, limiting him to just four points but it’s hard to keep a great player down for 40.

Juiston, who hoisted the William French Tournament MVP award dominated on the boards snagging 13 rebounds in the contest and finishing with 18 points.

ABOVE VIDEO: Head coach Jeremy Shulman speaks with NJCAA TV following the Titans loss.

Juiston averaged a double double during the season and did so in the tournament, averaging 22 points and 14 rebounds in four tourney games.

The Titans shot just 21 percent on 7-33 shooting during the games first 20 minutes and shot just 29 percent for the game. “It just wasn’t our night,” Eastern Florida State College men’s basketball coach Jeremy Shulman said.

“Unfortunately that happens sometimes, but I am so unbelievably proud of this team, they compete from the opening tip to the final buzzer.”

Already down 23 at the half, the Titans came out in the second half and tried to get back into the contest, cutting the lead to 13 at one point on an Ahmed Ali 3-pointer but could not close the gap.

What could go wrong for EFSC did as Murphy’s Law continued for the Titans just 1:43 into the second half.

The task of trying to come back in the game went from difficult to impossible when following a shot by a Hutchinson player, star guard Kareem Brewton went down writhing in pain.

The replay showed no contact and Brewton laid on the court for several minutes in severe pain grabbing at his left foot.

He was eventually helped off the court by his coach and trainer but was unable to put any pressure on his left foot.

The best news of the night for EFSC happened following the contest when Brewton returned, left foot heavily tapped and limping but without help to pose for the runner-up team picture.

As they were following the regular season, the Titans were well represented during the tournament awards ceremony.

Ali, Kareem Brewton and Eli Abaev made the all-tournament team.

Freshman, Ahmed Ali also won the Bud Obee Small Player Award for the tournament. Ali finished with 12 points in the game and averaged 17.5 points in the tournament.

The best news of the night for EFSC happened following the contest when Brewton returned, right foot heavily tapped and limping but without help to pose for the runner-up team picture.

Abaev had 11 rebounds in the game and averaged 12 rebounds per game in the tournament.

Shaq Carter finished with a team-high 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Michael Nuga also had 12 for the Titans who finish the season 31-6 on the season.

“I am just so proud of them, even for just getting here and setting all of the school records and getting to the national championship game,” Shulman said.

“This coaching staff, I am blessed to be around such great guys every day and then the administration, with Dr. (James) Richey and athletics director (Jeff) Carr. We are great because of the organization from top to bottom and I am blessed to coach here, blessed to coach these guys and unbelievably proud of the season we had.”

The season was the most successful in program history.

Freshman, Ahmed Ali also won the Bud Obee Small Player Award for the tournament. Ali finished with 12 points in the game and averaged 17.5 points in the tournament. (EFSC , Michael Parsons image)

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The team established a school record with  31 wins, won their fifth consecutive regular season conference tournament and made it to the finals of the conference and national tournament, the national finals was also a program first.

Brewton was conference player of the year and Shulman coach of the year.

The team is likely to be back in Hutchinson once again next season as the Titans graduate just three sophomores on their 16 man roster.

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Space Coast Daily Assistant Editor, Alan Zlotorzynski contributed to this story.

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