Men’s College Basketball: South Suburban reaches NJCAA Division II consolation semifinals
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media March 20, 2014 10:36PM
South Suburban's Charles Knowles (right) | File photo
Updated: April 22, 2014 6:24AM
Wednesday’s surprising loss to Fort Scott was a heartbreaker for a South Suburban squad that was hungry for a national title.
The Bulldogs, though, had to take the court again Thursday in the NJCAA Division II consolation bracket, still with a shot of finishing as high as seventh in the nation.
South Suburban bounced back nicely, pulling out a thrilling 74-71 win over Lake Michigan (Mich.) in Danville.
“We had to show a lot of character,” South Suburban coach John Pigatti said. “We played probably our worst game of the season (Wednesday), so to bounce back showed something. It’s always a close game when we play Lake Michigan, so we knew it’d be a battle.”
The Bulldogs (29-6) survived a wild final minute to hold on. Lake Michigan (20-14) closed to within 72-69 with 44 seconds to go and 72-71 two free throws with 7.2 seconds left.
Thornton product Antonio Levy (8 points) went to the line for South Suburban and hit the first. When he missed the second, a wild scramble ensued for the rebound and the ball went out of bounds.
The officials went to the replay monitor and awarded possession to the Bulldogs. Johnnie Stevens (9 points) then split two free throws before a Lake Michigan halfcourt heave fell short as the buzzer sounded.
“Last year, there was a play late where the ball went out of bounds off Rend Lake (in the Bulldogs’ quarterfinal loss) and they called it off us. They didn’t have replay yet. So I’m glad we’ve got it now. I’m a big fan of it,” Pigatti said.
Charles Knowles (Thornton) led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Jalen Brown added 13 points and seven rebounds and Anthony Strickland 10 points.
The Bulldogs went 16-of-30 from the field in the first half before struggling in the second, going 10-of-32.
“We’re not shooting well down here,” Pigatti said. “We have to take the ball to the basket and find ways to score points.”
South Suburban will meet Garrett (Md.) in a consolation semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday.