Titans Reach Regional Basketball Title Game
By Space Coast Daily // March 9, 2013
BCC One Win From National Championship Berth
MARIANNA, FLORIDA – The Brevard Community College men’s basketball team put its head in the lion’s mouth on Friday night and then reached down and stole its heart.
BCC upset Florida College System Activities Association/NJCAA Division I Region 8 tournament host Chipola College 82-72 to advance to Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. EST championship game against the College of Central Florida, which is ranked No. 8 in the nation.
At stake is a berth in the NJCAA Division I national championship tournament on March 18 to 23 in Hutchinson, Kan.
Playing in Chipola’s gym and before a raucous crowd BCC survived several Chipola runs. The most serious, in the second half, saw a 62-48 Titan lead with 9 minutes and three seconds to play whittled down to 63-59 with 6:55 to go as Chipola pounded the ball inside.
But a three-pointer by sophomore co-captain Addison Spruill, two free throws from classmate and co-captain Nyles Evans and a three-pointer from heady freshman Ben Patrick pushed the lead to 71-61 with 5:09 to play.
The lead was 75-66 as Chipola called a timeout with 1:53 to play but the Indians could get no closer as Spruill, Evans and Patrick combined to score the final seven BCC points for the victory.
Chipola’s loss marks the first time since 2002 that an FCSAA Panhandle Conference team will neither play for nor win the state title. Central Florida upset nationally third-ranked and Panhandle Conference champion Northwest Florida State College 74-71 earlier on Friday.
Instead BCC, champions of the Southern Conference and now 26-6 will play Central Florida the Mid Florida champion, which is now 29-3 for all the marbles.
That the matchup is in place is thanks to as gutsy an effort as BCC has put forth all season.
“Players play and tough guys win,” BCC head coach Jeremy Shulman said with what was remaining of his voice.
And the effort of Evans who played on pure guts due to a tender ankle injured in the first half personified that.
Despite being challenged on every dribble, every cut and every shot by the aggressive Chipola defenders and in turn run ragged when Chipola had the ball, Evans finished with a game-high 27 points.
“I feel like this game was a season win, something we did all season just happened in one game,” Evans said quietly in the subdued BCC dressing room.
It was a season of setbacks and comebacks. It was a season of must-win games when the pressure was enough to melt the fortitude of the stoutest of players. Yet, BCC prevailed.
“Coach, that’s how coach makes us practice,” said Spruill who finished with 19 points. “You make the practice tough you get in the games you play tough. We’re kind of used to it coming in. We probably have the second-toughest conference in the state. That helped us out a lot.”
Freshman Jure Gunjina felt the wrath of Shulman early in the game but responded with 18 points including four three-pointers. He also had a game-high 10 rebounds as the Titans outrebounded the bigger, stronger Indians 49-41.
“I feel good tonight,” a smiling Gunjina said despite a painful hip. “I think that was the biggest game of our season so far and I hope tomorrow is going to be even bigger.
“He yells at me because he wants me to play good,” Gunjina added about Shulman. “He tries to help me and this time he did.”
Praise for player
Shulman returned the compliments.
“The character and toughness these guys have, I’m speechless right now,” Shulman said.
“Playing against an unbelievable team like Chipola, on their home court. We knew it was going to be a game of runs. They had the crowd into it. It’s amazing our toughness to gut that thing out, made some big shots, got some big stops.
“We found a way.”
Patrick added 10 points for BCC, which was successful on 12 of 27 three-pointers. Chipols was 10 of 36. Overall BCC shot 26 of 65 from the floor for 40 percent while Chipola was 25 of 71 for 35.2 percent.
BCC was 18 of 25 from the free throw line while Chipola was 12 of 18. Demetrious Floyd led Chipola (26-5) with 19 points.
The game featured four lead changes and five ties. BCC led 32-28 at halftime and outscored Chipola 50-44 in the second half.