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Warrior Men’s Basketball Heads to NCCAA National Tournament


By Sterling College Athletics


STERLING, Kan. – There is just something special about the atmosphere of a win or go home game. The Sterling College men had the opportunity to host one of those games as they took on the Southwestern Christian University Eagles. The winner is guaranteed three more games at the national tournament and the loser goes home to get ready for next year. The chips fell to the Warriors on this night as they outlasted the Eagles to win 90-84 in the last game to be played on Lonnie Kruse Court this season.

It was slow going for both teams at the onslaught. Sterling shot well from beyond the arc early, but was not able to put the ball in the basket from inside. Thanks to the good shooting from beyond the arc, Sterling jumped out to a 16-10 lead with 12:38 left in the first half. Things turned ugly for the Warriors for the next seven minutes. SWCU went on a 12-2 in that time and turned a 6 point deficit into a 4 point lead with five minutes left to play in the first half. Sterling fought to even the score with 90 seconds left to play in the first half and even took the lead with what looked like it would be the last basket of the half, before SWCU hit a 3 as time expired giving the Eagles a one point lead going into the break. Neither team played exceptionally well in the first half and Sterling found themselves on the wrong end of a 34-33 halftime score.

Sterling shot just 35% from the field in the first half, 42% from three point range. They were dominating on the boards holding a 25-16 advantage. Sterling was, however, on the wrong end of the turnover battle at the break. With just the slimmest of margins between these two teams, the team that could find any kind of rhythm in the second half would be the victor in this “win or go home” game.

Sterling took the lead on a pair of Elias Ngoga free throws on their first possession and never relinquished the lead. Over the next four and a half minutes, Sterling built a ten point lead. It looked as though the Warriors were going to take over and run away with the game. The Eagles had a different plan. Southwestern Christian went on a 10-3 run to cut the lead to just three points.

Once again, Sterling methodically regained control and built an 11 point lead with just under seven minutes to play. The momentum really shifted as a Kavonte Kinney dunk was followed up with a Kinney to Ngoga alley-oop that made the crowd go wild. Kinney brought the house down one more time before the night was over. The eleven point lead was Sterling’s largest of the night and proved to be too much for SWCU to overcome. The closest the Eagles would get the rest of the night was 5 points. Sterling took advantage of the home court and beat the SWCU Eagles by a final score of 90-84.

Sterling was led by Kavonte Kinney who had 27 points and 10 rebounds. Derrian Reed had another solid outing scoring 22 points. Lucas Briar ended the game with 14 points and 5 rebounds. The other double double belongs to Ngoga who went for 11 points and 10 rebounds. Cedric Rollerson played the role of distributor scoring just 8 points, well below his average, but dished out 6 assists. Sienion Dozier had a solid night off the bench scoring 8 points and adding 7 rebounds.

Sterling finished the game with a much improved 43% shooting percentage from the field and continued to shoot well from beyond the arc, shooting nearly 44%. After shooting just two free throws in the first half, Sterling finished 20-26 from the charity stripe. Sterling dominated the boards the whole game finishing with a +18 rebounding margin.

The Warriors now advance to the NCCAA National Tournament in Winona Lake, Ind. where they will play 3 games guaranteed from March 15-18. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate. Online tickets can be purchased here. Game information will be published when that information is made available.