MESA, Arizona — The South Plains College men's basketball team used a valiant defensive effort to hold off Seward County 62-58 Saturday to advance to the Fiesta Bowl Junior College Shootout finals for the fourth consecutive season.
The Texans improved to 9-4 on the year and will do battle with No. 23 Salt Lake at 8 p.m. MST on Sunday. The game will stream live at spctexans.com and can be accessed by using the 'Watch Texans' tab at the top of the homepage.
"I guess the first one to 60 wins with us," South Plains head coach Steve Green said. "We had a lot of guys help piece it together, and we have to get ready for Salt Lake tomorrow. They will be the most talented team we've seen this season and they are a special group. It will be fun and we will get to see where we are, and it will be a tremendous challenge for our guys and I'm really looking forward to it."
Leading 29-25 after one half, Paul Person knocked down a jumper from seven feet to put the Texans up 38-27 with 17:32 to play Seward would answer with an 11-3 run and get within three, 41-38 on a Surakata Jawara' tip-in with 14:05 to play. The Saints would eventually take the lead 47-45 on a Rostyslav Novitskyi' layup with just under 11 minutes to go, but South Plains would answer back and take the lead 49-48 on a Rivaldo Soares' jumper with 7:23 left, a lead they would not relinquish over the next seven minutes.
Trailing by four with 10 seconds remaining, the Saints would get within two, 60-58 on a layup from Samuel Henderson with three ticks left, but a pair of free throws from Soares on the other end with a second to play would help the Texans win their fourth straight game and catapult them into the tournament finals.
Soares led the Texans with 12 points on 3 of 12 shooting from the floor, while Junior Farquhar netted eight points and snagged eight boards for South Plains. Benjamin Bayela finished with nine points and three assists as the Texans shot a 39.6 percent clip from the field and were 18 of 24 from the free throw line.
Branton McCrary led the Saints with 16 points and four rebounds, while Henderson bucketed 11 points and grabbed five rebounds. Seward would shoot just 33.3 percent from the field and were 5-for-24 from the 3-point line in the contest.