HANCEVILLE – With a 64-61 win over Northwest Florida State College on Saturday, the Wallace State-Hanceville (Ala.) men's basketball team finished in fifth place in the National Junior College Athletic Association's (NJCAA) Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
This was a historic win for Wallace State men's basketball, coming at the end of their first ever appearance in the National Tournament and a tremendously successful season that included their first Alabama Community College Conference Championship and a Coach of the Year Award for Lions' Head Coach Allen Sharpe.
The Lions opened with an 84-81 win in the National Tournament on Tuesday, Mar. 16 against Butler County Community College (Kan.). After a day of rest, they suffered unusually cold shooting and fell 82-66 to Eastern Utah on Thursday. On Friday, they to defeated Walters (Tenn.) 69-62 in an exciting win that kept the team alive in the tournament.
That momentum carried through into Saturday when Wallace State (32-5) came back from a two point half-time deficit to outscore the Raiders 32-27 in the second half.
While the Lions were closely matched in scoring by No. 5 ranked Northwest Florida (30-5), Wallace State showed much better accuracy in three-point shooting, converting 42 percent of attempts versus the Raiders' 18 percent, and in free throw completions - 75 percent to 43 percent, statistics which make Coach Allen Sharpe proud.
Personal fouls were divided roughly the same — 16 for the Lions and 17 for the Raiders. Both teams showed tenacity retrieving the ball, recording 43 rebounds apiece.
L.A. Farmer led the Lions with 19 points, going a perfect 7-for-7 on free throw opportunities, and 7 rebounds. Sergio Crowe connected on 4-of-5 three point attempts, and scored 14 points. Ricardo Hall went 5-for-9 from field goal range, and matched Crowe's 14 points.
Don Hughes scored 5 points and Darrick Thomas recorded 4 points. Gaither Hendrix and Johnathan Crawford scored 3 points each, while Mitchell Anderson added 2 points.
The championship will be decided between unranked Three Rivers Community College (Miss.) and No. 2 ranked Howard College (Tex.) in the late game on Saturday.
Official information from the tournament may be found on the NJCAA Tournament web site at njcaabbtrny.org, where visitors will find links to updated brackets as well as live game broadcasts and webcasts.