Trail Blazers’ bid for spot in national tournament gets sideswiped by Cobras’ second-half blitz


John Wood Community College men's basketball coach Brad Hoyt saw his team suffer a season-ending 73-56 loss to Parkland in the Region 24 championship game Sunday at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. | Matt Schuckman photo

INA, Ill. — The way the first half of Sunday’s Region 24 championship game went back and forth had John Wood Community College men’s basketball coach Brad Hoyt sensing his team was in a championship dogfight.

“It was physical,” Hoyt said. “And it was a game of runs. I expected more of that to happen in the second half.”

The problem was the Trail Blazers never put a run of their own together.

Top-seeded Parkland opened the second half with a 11-2 blitz and turned a three-point halftime advantage into a 16-point bulge in the first six minutes, catapulting the Cobras to a 73-56 victory at Rend Lake College and a berth in the NJCAA Division II national tournament.

“We couldn’t get a stop and we couldn’t score,” Hoyt said. “Part of ending runs is being able to get a stop, but also it comes down to the way you score. We just couldn’t do either one of those two things.”

Parkland sophomore guard Brylan Phillips opened the second half by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers five steps beyond the 3-point stripe on the right wing. Grant Coleman’s trey capped the opening salvo and forced Hoyt to burn a timeout with 16:32 remaining and Parkland ahead 45-33.

Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers made just one field goal in the first six minutes of the second half and never trimmed the deficit to single digits thereafter.

“Our bugaboo all year has been the ability to score it in some tough spots,” Hoyt said. “Gosh, dangit, we couldn’t. And again, they have five guys on the floor who can score. All it takes is a couple of them to get going. You get to pressing a little bit and you start to try stuff you probably shouldn’t try and there you have it.

“We just couldn’t come up with a solution.”

That wasn’t the case in the first half.

Parkland opened the game on a 10-3 run, only to see JWCC answer with an 11-1 spurt as sophomore forward Braylon Diggs scored on back-to-back possessions. A 15-1 run by the Cobras followed only to see JWCC go on a 16-2 run of its own, highlighted by sophomore forward Logan Robbins coming off the bench to score back-to-back baskets for the lead with 3:10 to go.

However, Parkland had the last gasp, scoring six points in the final minute of the half to go up 34-31 at the break. JWCC never recovered.

“They made plays and we could not get out of the way,” Hoyt said.

The Trail Blazers end the season with a 19-13 record and will return all-region point guard Jordan Shelton, 6-foot-8 forward Jake Wallingford and other contributors who Hoyt believes will guide this team back to a championship Sunday a year from now.

“I told the guys in the locker room our goal will always be to get to Sunday,” Hoyt said after his team played in the region championship for the ninth time in the past 13 seasons. “When you do that, you put yourself in a situation where you celebrate or you get real sad because you’re one step away from winning a championship. We’ll have guys coming back and guys who are committed to doing that.

“We’ve spent a lot of Sundays in March chasing it and our expectation is we will do that again next year.”

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Related Articles