Rochester Community & Technical College lost to #1-seed Sandhills Community College, 84-76 in the semi-finals of the 2019-20 NJCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament on Friday, March 13.
With the loss, RCTC concludes their season at 26-6 overall and a 1-1 record on the national stage. The Yellowjackets booked their trip to the 2019-20 championships by winning the 2019-20 North Plains District Tournament title, picking up three wins in three days over Hibbing Community College 98-75, Central Lakes College 83-80 and St. Cloud Technical & Community College, 82-62.
With their strong form at the end of the regular season - 13 straight wins between January 22 and March 1 - head coach Brian LaPlante and sophomore standout Kong Kong saw their team earn the #4 seed from the national tournament committee. With the first-round bye, the Yellowjackets used fresh legs to run past Richland College, 90-83 in their quarterfinal match-up yesterday. Ray Adams stole the show for RCTC in their win over the Thunderducks, scoring 26 points to lead all scorers on the day. Kong grabbed 13 rebounds and scored 14 points for the double-double, while Jerome Cunningham had 22 points.
Against top-seeded Sandhills, RCTC found themselves in a battle with the 32-2 Flyers; in a game that featured double-digit lead changes, Rochester fell just short in the momentum battle, 84-76. Sandhills was able to exploit a deep bench, with 31 points coming from non-starters in the semi-final win. For Rochester, Jerome Cunningham and Kong Kong both reached double-digits in points at 18 and 12, respectively. Kong also tallied nine assists, while Karmoga Lero added 16 to the RCTC effort.
In addition to sophomores Kong Kong, Karmoga Lero and Ray Adams, RCTC will have to replace Elijah Flenorl, Antonio Maddox, and Mickey Jah, all of whom completed their second season for the Yellowjackets. LaPlante and his staff head into the off-season on the heels of their seventh all-time NJCAA National Tournament appearance. Rochester earned runner-up status in 2010, 2011 and 2016, while notching a third-place finish in 2015.
#1 Sandhills advances to the 6pm National Championship contest tonight; they will face the winner of #2 Mohawk Valley and #3 Eastfield.
NJCAA Division III MBB Semi-Finals, Fri. 3/13:
11am -#1 Sandhills def. #4 Rochester, 84-76
1pm - #2 Mohawk Valley vs. #3 Eastfield
NJCAA Division III MBB Championship Game, Fri. 3/13:
6pm - #1 Sandhills vs. Mohawk Valley/Eastfield winner
For more on MCAC Men's Basketball, please go to: https://www.mcacsports.org/sports/mbkb/index
The NJCAA National Office announced on Thursday significant changes to the 2019-20 NJCAA Division III Men's and Women's Basketball Championships. These preventive measures included canceling all consolation contests and shortening both men's and women's Division III tournaments by one day.
Updated NJCAA Statement Regarding Men's & Women's Basketball Tournaments
Charlotte, NC – In light of recent developments regarding COVID-19, the NJCAA has made the decision to postpone national championship events for the upcoming DI and DII men's and women's basketball tournaments. DIII men's and women's basketball championships, currently underway, will work with an expedited schedule that will conclude on Friday, March 13.
Originally scheduled to begin the week of March 16, the four upcoming national championship events – DI men, DI women, DII men, and DII women will aim for a tentative start date of Monday, April 20.
The DIII men's and women's national championships, currently underway, will cancel all consolation games and will move semifinal and championship games to Friday, March 13. Effective immediately, spectators will be restricted from the remaining contests for both DIII championships in Rockford, IL and Rochester, MN.
Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President & CEO expressed his sentiments regarding the situation. "Due to the concerns surrounding the safety and security of our student-athletes and those involved with Division I and Division II NJCAA championships, we are postponing the tournaments and maintaining a fluid mentality to see these tournaments take place with a tentative start date.
We have two main objectives in this situation - first and foremost is to protect the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, college personnel, and fans. Second is to make sure our student-athletes receive the national championship experience that they have worked so hard for."
Start dates for each of the respective tournaments are tentative and the NJCAA will continue to follow all state and local mandates, restrictions, and regulations as it impacts its member institutions and national championship events.
The Minnesota College Athletic Conference is the organizational body for NJCAA-affiliated two-year technical and community college athletic programs in the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, as well as select member colleges in North Dakota and Wisconsin. The mission of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference is to advance intercollegiate athletics by providing an engaging and supportive environment for success of our student athletes and competition among member institutions. The MCAC is committed to the guiding principles of encouraging the development and success of student athletes, promoting the integrity, honesty and loyalty to member schools as well as upholding the sustainability of conference athletic programs.
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