Lakers lose in overtime in region semifinals

  Rolling over top-seeded Frederick Community College, 76-60, in Friday’s NJCAA Region XX Division II quarterfinal was a nice achievement for the Garrett College men’s basketball team.  The eighth-seeded Lakers were hoping to build on that achievement in Saturday night’s semifinal against fourth-seeded host Cecil College.

GC came up just short of a second straight upset win, falling to the Seahawks, 79-75 in overtime.

Seahawk Jordan Griggs (team-high 15 points) sank two free throws with 14 seconds left in regulation to create a 63-63 tie and force overtime.  Cecil’s Caleb Johnson (14 points off the bench) scored five points in the extra period, including a tie-breaking jumper with 1:11 to play that put the Seahawks ahead to stay, as Cecil (15-17) advanced to Sunday’s title game against second-seeded College of Southern Maryland.

Garrett head coach Dennis Gibson lauded his team’s effort in the regional tournament.

“We beat the #1 seed and then had to play Cecil at Cecil and they still put themselves in a position to win,” said Gibson, whose team finished the season with a 14-13 record.  “That’s all you can ask of a team.”

The Lakers trailed by six before finishing the first half on a 7-1 run that was capped by a 3-pointer from Nelson Richardson (8 points) that pulled Garrett into a 31-31 halftime tie.  Cecil reclaimed the momentum with a 6-0 run that included a pair of hoops from Kamden Stubblefield (9 points) to take a 46-41 lead with 11:49 left in regulation.

Garrett kept fighting back, retaking the lead at 61-59 when Ariel Watson (game-high 25 points) nailed a 3-pointer with 3:09 remaining in regulation.  Keyon Givens got the Seahawks even with a layup 19 seconds later, but Watson’s layup with 1:19 left put the Lakers back on top and set the stage for Griggs’ game-tying free throws.

The Lakers hurt themselves at the foul line, going 4-for-10 compared to Cecil’s 17-for-22, and had twice as many turnovers as the Seahawks (14 to 7).  Even so, the Lakers had a golden opportunity to win the game right at the end of regulation, but couldn’t connect.  Watson missed a wide-open jumper with four seconds remaining and Simun Kovac (12 points, 14 rebounds) hauled in the offensive rebound but missed the put-back in heavy traffic.

Gibson said his squad’s performance in the regional tournament was much more indicative of their potential that the team’s final record, which was impacted by a slew of injuries.

“Simun had time to get better; Jermaine [Samuel, who scored 15 against Cecil] had time to get better,” said Gibson, whose squad was relatively healthy for the tournament.  “That gave us confidence because now we had guys we could rotate in.”

Garrett 76, Frederick 60

NORTH EAST – Ariel Watson scored a game-high 24 points and hauled in seven rebounds as the eighth-seeded Lakers shocked top-seeded Frederick Community College (22-6) in Friday’s regional quarterfinals.

Simun Kovac (13 points, 11 rebounds), Ray Hinton (12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists), and reserve Nelson Richardson (11 points, 3 assists) joined Watson in double figures for Garrett, which blew out to a 37-20 halftime lead.

Keon Claiborne scored a team-high 15 points off the bench for Frederick while Dashon Bell added 14 points.