MESA, Ariz. — Jordan Brangers scored 18 points and Isaiah Maurice poured in 16 as the South Plains College men's basketball team snapped ninth-ranked College of Southern Idaho's 13-game win streak with a 69-65 win on Friday in the semifinals of the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout.
Now 9-3 on the year, South Plains advances to Saturday's championship finals where they will meet No. 3 Indian Hills (15-0) at 8 p.m. MST. Indian Hills is coached by former South Plains assistant Hank Plona.
"I thought this was a hard fought win and both teams played extremely hard," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "Both teams played with erratic, physical defense, and it was definitely not an artistic showing from either team and kind of felt like a welterweight fight. Our guys know what we've done at this tournament the last two years and know we've played in the last game on Saturday night, and we've discussed the ramifications of playing in that final game, versus not playing in it."
Leading by five with 21 ticks left following a pair of free throws from Ben Perez, Southern Idaho's Charles Jones was fouled on a 3 with 14 seconds remaining. Jones knocked down all three to bring the Golden Eagles within two, 67-65.
The Golden Eagles would then force a turnover with 7.8 seconds to play, but a 3 from Jake Hendricks and a putback at the rim from Jones would fall short as the Texans grabbed the rebound and Christopher Orlina sunk a pair of free throws to give South Plains a four-point win and an opportunity to win the tournament title for the third time in as many years.
"This is a great win for us and just shows us where we need to be," Maurice said. "We started off slow to begin the year but we seem to finally be getting things going at the right time. Losing three games early in the year and getting dropped out of the rankings, we're hungry. We know we're a top-five team, and with the guys on this team and our coaching staff, we'll be back up there."
Despite shooting just 36 percent (27-75) from the field, South Plains held to Golden Eagles to a season-low 28.6 percent (20-70) shooting mark. Brangers added four boards and four assists to go along with his team-high point total and Orlina chipped in 10 points on 4 of 11 shooting. Maurice knocked down 7 of 10 attempts from the floor and Raymond Doby grabbed 12 boards over 19 minutes.
"Our defense was good, but our offense was lacking and was our worst performance of the season," Green said. "I wish that he (Plona) and I could both win, and it's not going to be me against him, but their team versus our team. I wanted to find out if we were good enough to be in the conversation. We beat Snow which is a good team and beat Southern Idaho which is a good team, and we'll see what happens tomorrow night. If it's a game like this, then we're somebody that should be considered a top 10 team."
South Plains forced the Golden Eagles into 14 turnovers and received 27 points off the bench and scored 22 inside the paint. Jones led all scorers with 19 points on 5 of 21 shooting and pulled in eight rebounds. Hendricks finished with 13 points and was 5-for-5 from the charity stripe while Danya Kingsby totaled 12 points and seven boards over 29 minutes.