Tiger basketball team goes 1-1 at Tonkawa Classic, national title rematch on Wednesday
The Cowley College men's basketball team wrapped up its non-conference slate by splitting a pair of games at the Tonkawa Classic played Friday and Saturday in Tonkawa, OK. The Tigers finish non-conference play with a record of 4-2.
As they did earlier this season, Cowley defeated Northern Oklahoma College-Enid 68-57 before losing to Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa 73-68.
"We are getting better and starting to make some plays, we just need to do it more consistently," Cowley head coach Donnie Jackson said.
On Friday against NOC-Enid, the score would be tied 15-15 midway through the first half, and remain tied at 23 all with five minutes left before halftime. A 15-foot jumper by the Tigers' Kennedy Willis, just before the halftime buzzer, gave Cowley a 29-28 lead.
The Tigers' lead would grow to double digits (44-34) following a tip-in by freshman Emmanuel Austin. Holding on to a seven-point advantage (60-53), sophomore Clarence King made an acrobatic three-point play in the lane to help seal the 11-point win.
King filled up the stat sheet, finishing with 27 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
"Clarence was special. He really put us on his back this weekend," Jackson said.
Willis added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers as they out-rebounded the Jets 48-36.
"I challenged Kennedy to be more consistent and if he can do that it will really open up the floor for us," Jackson said.
Quentin Harvey led NOC-Enid with 10 points and seven rebounds in the loss.
On Saturday, Cowley would lead NOC-Tonkawa 16-12 midway through the first half and the Tigers went into halftime leading 35-29.
Cowley's lead would grow to 50-36 following a basket by King seven minutes into the second half. However, a 10-2 run pulled the Mavericks within 52-46. NOC-Tonkawa would grab its first lead of the second half at 57-56 following a basket by David Owusu with 6:50 left to play.
The Mavericks' lead would grow to 71-65 before Cowley's Mekhi Cameron drilled a three-pointer to cut the Tigers' deficit to three points with 2.6 seconds remaining. Forced to foul, Cowley sent NOC-Tonkawa's Nick Cham to the free-throw line where he made both shots as the Mavericks held on for the five-point win.
"Our inexperience started to show the last 12 minutes of that game," Jackson said. "We have got to fix some of these late game issues that have plagued us in our two losses to Tonkawa. We also need more production from our bench and need to have them impact the game in some way."
Raishaun Brown led Cowley with 18 points, while King and Willis chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Cowley will now prepare to open conference play with a rematch of last year's national championship game as they will host defending national champion Coffeyville Community College Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Red Ravens have also played a difficult non-conference schedule and will enter the game with a record of 3-3.
"What a game this should be," Jackson said. "We need to move on quickly and get ready for a different kind of intensity that conference play brings. We are excited to be back at home and need to find a way to protect our home court."