by Jakob Perez
Last weekend, the SLCC Bruins played in the Region 18 Tournament with hopes to win it for the second year in a row. After finishing second in the region, the Bruins were granted a first-round bye, meaning that their first tournament game would be against Snow College in the regional semifinals.
In their three meetings during the regular season the Bruins were able to come away with two wins. In both of those games however, they had to pull out narrow single possession victories. With a trip to the regional championship game at stake, both teams had a lot more on the line.
Just as in their previous matchups this contest was tight from start to finish. The Bruins went ended the half with a slight advantage. They were leading 48-45. The second half sophomores Marvin Price and Jay Allen – Tovar gave the team a huge scoring boost. Price, a Baltimore native, led the team in scoring with 24 points. Allen–Tovar pitched in with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Thanks in large part to their hot shooting, the Bruins were able to pull away late in the fourth quarter. This gave them a 102–95 win over Snow College, and a place in the regional championship the next day.
In the championship game, they would be matched up with a talented College of Southern Idaho squad. This opponent came into the tournament as the number one seed. CSI would be looking for revenge as the Bruins were able to get the better of them in their last two meetings.
The last time they met, Salt Lake was able to get the win with a buzzer beating three-pointer from Quincey McGriff. This time, an automatic bid for the NJCAA tournament as well as a regional title were on the line.
In the first half the Bruins came out slow, shooting 34.6 percent from the field. CSI, on the other hand, was able to make baskets whenever they wanted. This gave them a 47-33 lead over the Bruins at the halfway mark. Salt Lake wasn’t ready to give up on their championship hopes just yet.
In the second half, the Bruins battled back and with less than a minute to go in the game were able to trim the deficit to six. However, the 14-point comeback proved to be too insurmountable this time. SLCC went down, losing the regional championship 94–84. The team shot just 62 percent from the free throw line. They missed 14 of their 37 attempts.
While this loss was a devastating blow for Salt Lake it wasn’t over quite yet. They missed their opportunity to get an automatic bid to the national tournament but received an at-large bid to compete for a national title. They squared off with South Georgia State College on Monday, April 19, 2021. SLCC lost a close game 93-89 in this first round game but can still hang their heads high on a great season.
The national tournament is currently being held in Hutchison, Kansas from April 19-24, 2021.