LOCH SHELDRAKE, N.Y. — In their final game of the season Saturday, the Central Lakes College Raiders beat the No. 1 ranked team in the country, the Brookdale (N.J.) Jersey Blues, 85-75, at the NJCAA National Championships at SUNY Sullivan College to lock in fourth place
CLC got off to a 4-0 lead with a Brandon Davis layup and Maurice Hernandez jump shot, but the fast-paced game was soon tied at 16-16 at the 10:19 mark of the first half. Brookdale’s aggressive inside play gave them a 28-19 lead six minutes later. Raiders coach Jim Russell called time to try and stem the bleeding before the Raiders fell further behind.
Michael Farrington scored six points, several buckets by Ronnie Kornbaum and a long 3 from Hernandez helped the Raiders pull to three points, but turnovers and fouls caused CLC problems. The half ended with Brookdale leading by nine.
Hernandez was CLC’s first-half high scorer with 11 points, Farrington and Kwamaine Johnson each had seven. The Raiders committed 14 first half turnovers.
Johnson opened the second-half with two 3-pointers, Ronnie Kornbaum hit a three, Davis a short jumper and a layup to push CLC ahead 50-48 with 15:53 on the clock. After another Kornbaum 3-pointer, the score was 55-48 and Brookdale called a timeout.
With CLC over its foul limit and turnovers again hurting the team, Brookdale clawed its way back to 67-61 at 7:32.
During the last five minutes of the half the Raiders mounted a furious offensive barrage to build an 83-70 lead with 2:03 to go.
“I told the guys that we don’t give up a fight, we always battle,” said Russell after the game, a big smile on his face, speaking about his locker room motivational speech during halftime. “I told them that we have 20 minutes left in the season, and that we need to really fight for a win today, and they came through, as they have all season.”
Kornbaum, who was named to the all-tournament team, said Russell’s words meant a lot to the players.
“The [Brookdale] team may have been bigger than we were, but we understood what coach was saying, we needed to play with our hearts as well as with physical play. We did that from the first minute of the second half until the last minute.”
Johnson was CLC’s high scorer with 25 points. The Raiders’ five starters scored 83 of the team’s 85 points. Kahlil Bennett scored 16 points for the Jersey Blues.
BROOKDALE JERSEY BLUES
Chris Jetter 2, Tunell Polk 9, Sean McPaul 5, Kevin Ohen 12, Kahlil Bennett 16, Natanael Pacius 12, Andrew Goldstein 4, Lucas Glass 2, Lance Walker 7, Josh Vital 6. FG 27-60 (45 percent). FT 17-29 (59 percent). 3 point 4-14 (29 percent). Overall 28-4.
Michael Farrington 12, Ronnie Kornbaum 17, Maurice Hernandez 14, Kwamaine Johnson 25, Brandon Davis 15, Jesse Fleming 2. FG 30-64 (47 percent). FT 18-25 (72 percent). 3-point 7-23 (30 percent). Overall 29-4.