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Big step for JDCC: a postseason win

By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
At this time of the college basketball season, it is not how you win as long as you win.
While the Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawks may not have secured their victory as quickly as they would have liked, the bottom line was they held off the visiting Bishop State Wildcats 76-71 in Saturday's preliminary round of the Alabama Community College State Tournament.
Saturday's win marked the first time since the 1998-99 season, coach Allen Gainer's first season at the school, that JDCC has advanced past the opening round.
"That's a good step forward for our program. This was also our 10th win of the season and it's been a while since we've hit double digits in wins. That's another positive," Gainer said.
The Warhawks (10-20) had beaten Bishop State (6-23) 76-57 on the same Brewton court just nine days earlier, but Saturday's rematch was up for grabs until the last few
seconds.
"Even though we had the lead for much of the game, we were never able to deliver that knockout punch," Gainer said.
JDCC began the game in a 6-0 hole, but eventually caught the Wildcats for the first time at 13-13 on a three-pointer by Arthur Richardson six minutes into the contest. A bucket by Richard Ford and two free throws by Keith Myers followed and JDCC never trailed again.
The Warhawks later widened that advantage to a first half high of 30-20 when Ford drained a three-pointer with just under seven minutes left in the first half.
Richardson, who had 15 of his 17 points in the first half, helped JDCC maintain a solid lead with a trey and a drive to a bucket for another score over the last two minutes of the half.
Bishop State center Clark Mackenzie, who racked up 14 of his game high 27 points in the first half, put in three field goals late in the first half, including an offensive rebound bucket at the buzzer, that trimmed JDCC's lead to 41-34.
The Warhawks took their biggest lead of the game in the first three minutes of the second half when two buckets by Jairus Jackson bumped up the advantage to 45-34.
Over the next six minutes the complexion of the game changed. Four JDCC turnovers, two buckets by Mackenzie, who played 19 minutes of the second half with four fouls before fouling out, a trey by Leonte Johnson and a bucket by Eric Thrash with 10:30 left trimmed JDCC's lead to just 52-51.
A three-pointer by Kedric Wilson and buckets by Richardson and Chris Owens helped the Warhawks thwart that threat, but there would be another.
With JDCC's lead at 67-60 with five minutes left, Bishop State got two buckets by
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MacKenzie with two free throws by Jamarquis Pierce squeezed in between that once again got JDCC's lead down to just a point at 67-66 with 3:10 left.
Ford came up with two huge offensive rebound buckets over the final two minutes, the second with 53 seconds left that gave the Warhawks a two-possession lead of 71-66.
Two free throws by Jackson and Cory Webb and one by Ford in the final minute helped finish off the victory.
Free throws were a huge item in the game. While the Warhawks were a modest 15-for-23 from the charity stripe, Bishop State was only 10-for-23. JDCC also hit four of six free throw attempts on three Bishop State technical fouls.
The wins ends the Warhawks to Shelton State College in Tuscaloosa where they will face Gadsden State today at 2 p.m. The teams split two regular season meetings with each winning at home.
"I think it's a good matchup for us. Gadsden State does shoot the three-pointer well, but their inside game isn't that strong. It's tough, but I really think we have a chance in this tournament. We're not going just to be going," Gainer said.
At JDCC
Bishop State 34 37 – 71
JDCC 41 35 – 76
BISHOP STATE (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Mackenzie 13-0-1-27; Johnson 5-1-1-14; Thrash
3-1-4-13; Burgess 3-1-0-9; Pierce 1-0-3-5; McCannico 1-0-1-3 (Totals: 26-3-10-71)
JDCC (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Richardson 5-2-1-17; Jackson 2-1-7-14; Wilson 2-2-0-10; Ford 3-1-1-10; Myers 3-0-4-10; Webb 2-1-2-9; Owens 2-0-0-4; Spann 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 20-7-15-76)