Ottumwa -- Indian Hills used a suffocating second-half defense to grab the Region XI postseason championship with a 72-58 decision against Southeastern CC Saturday night at the Hellyer Center. The win was the 20th in a row on their home court for IHCC and sets up a Thursday night District 11 championship matchup at home with Dawson (Mont.) CC to determine an automatic berth in the NJCAA National Tournament.
The IHCC defense held SCC to just four field goals in the final period, one in the first 12 1/2 minutes, as they overcome a 29-24 halftime deficit to add the postseason ICCAC title to the regular-season one they already owned.
Southeastern made only 17 percent of its field goal attempts after halftime and just 28 percent for the game.
Indian Hills didn't go on top for good until Drake Jeffries nailed his only field goal of the night, a 3-pointer, to break a 37-37 tie. Maurice Calloo had hit another three moments earlier to forge the deadlock. From there, the Warriors pulled away over the final nine minutes.
Carlos Lemus, who led SCC with 22 points, got only their second basket of the half at the 7:29 mark to bring the Blackhawks to within 46-42 and he added a free throw on the next possession to get them to within three points.
Samba Kane stepped to the line less than a minute later and the seven-footer, who had hit only 33 percent of his foul shots this season, calmly drained both ends of a one-and-one. Following a pair of free throws for the Blackhawks, Tyon Grant-Foster scored on a drive, Malique Jacobs made one-of-two at the line, Kane hit two more FTs, and Jacobs, who contributed a season-high 16 points, made a layup and the lead was 10 with 3:21 remaining. SCC hit their 3rd and 4th baskets of the half after that -- a three by Bonds and a banked-in three by Lemus in the final minute.
IHCC's second-leading scorer, Chris Childs, was held without a field goal, but made 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to help secure the win. Grant-Foster had 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Indian Hills helped their comeback by making 25-of-30 FTs.
After the Warriors put up the first five points of the contest, Southeastern came back with 11 unanswered points and was in control the remainder of the opening half. They expanded their lead to as many as 11 at 25-14 and 27-16. That's when the IHCC offense got the boost it was looking for from freshman guard Tyrese Nickelson. He hit a jumper from the foul line, and then connected on back-to-back 3s -- his 9th and 10th of the year -- to get IHCC back to within five points. Each team made two free throws after that and the margin was five at intermission.
Loseni Kamara hit a big three, his lone bucket, to start the second-half scoring, Jacobs finished a three-point play a short time later, and the consecutive 3-pointers by Calloo and Jeffries eventually got the Warriors over the hump. They made all but two of their 23 shots from the stripe in the final half.
Childs was named the region's Player of the Year following the game and IHCC head coach Hank Plona was honored as the Coach of the Year. Plona is 10-3 against SCC in his five years at the helm.
The win came in the 100th game between Indian Hills and Southeastern since the Warriors started playing on the Ottumwa campus. IHCC owns the alltime advantage, 58-42. It also allowed Indian Hills to claim the season series from the Blackhawks, the only team to beat the Warriors over their last 24 games -- a mid-January loss in West Burlington. Indian Hills won at home, 80-64, during the regular season.
The Warriors have played 15 district title games in their history and have won 12 of them. Their last one was two years ago when they knocked off North Dakota State College of Science, 88-76.
INDIAN HILLS 72, SOUTHEASTERN 58
Chris Payton 1 3-4 5, Maurice Calloo 3 2-2 9, Tyrese Nickelson 3 1-1 9, Loseni Kamara 1 2-2 5, Chris Childs 0 7-8 7, Malique Jacobs 6 4-5 16, Tyon Grant-Foster 5 2-2 14, Drake Jeffries 1 0-0 3, JD Muila 0 0-2 0, Samba Kane 0 4-4 4 Team 20 25-30 73
Aaris Bonds 3 4-4 11, Boubacar Kamissoko 2 0-1 4, Elias Ezenekwe 3 4-6 10, Carlos Lemus 5 8-10 22, Diew Moses 1 6-6 8, Dadrian Hoambrecker 1 0-0 3, Gavin Kies 0 0-0 0, Steven Melina 0 0-0 0 Team 15 22-26
Halftime score: Southeastern 29, Indian Hills 24; Three-point field goals: IHCC 7 (Grant-Foster 2, Nickelson 2, Kamara 1, Jeffries, Calloo 1); SCC 6 (Lemus 4, Bonds 1, Hoambrecker 1)