Feb 23, 2023 6:45 PM

Late rally saves Blackhawks

Posted Feb 23, 2023 6:45 PM

Above:  Southeastern Community College’s Jaylen Searles (2) drives to the basket in the first half against Illinois Central Wednesday night at Loren Walker Arena. Searles scored 11 points and SCC eked out a 62-61 win. Photo/Joe Geren

By Joe Geren

Two steals, a tip-in, and two free throws in the final 34 seconds lifted Southeastern Community College to a 62-61 win over Illinois Central in a men’s basketball game at Loren Walker Arena Wednesday night.

The Blackhawks’ Davion Bailey hit a 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to play and SCC called a timeout, trailing 58-61. Upon returning to the floor, Jhonny Tovar stole the basketball and Deng Deang’s tip-in of a missed shot pulled SCC to within a point with 21.1 seconds to play. Timeout was called again.

 SCC’s Jaylen Searles stole the ball and called another timeout with 16.4 seconds showing on the clock. Bailey threw the inbounds pass to Isaiah Griffin, who was fouled while shooting. He sank both free throws with 14.1 seconds left to gain the winning edge.

Illinois Central squandered its final possession when Keaundre Cooper was whistled for traveling with four seconds left.

 The Blackhawks led by as much as 13 points in the first half and were up 35-25 at intermission. The Cougars scored the first nine points of the second half, tied the score at 36-36, and took the lead for the first time at 50-49 with 5:14 left on the clock.

There was “no energy tonight, the way we came out in the second half, “ SCC head coach Lorenzo Watkins said. “When you’re playing teams like that and give them confidence, I thought they played with a lot of energy and effort. Coach (Tony) Wyslinger always has his guys play hard. They did a great job of hitting shots when they needed to. When you take bad possessions on offense our defense suffers.”

Griffin led all scorers with 16 points. Bailey had 14, Searles scored 11 and Deang and Jack Wetzel each scored eight points Brock Card led the Cougars with 14 points and Lavell McIntosh added 13. Illinois Central fell to 9-17.

 SCC (21-8) ends the regular season Saturday at Marshalltown (10-18), then begins Region XI tournament play Wednesday, March 1, hosting Marshalltown at Loren Walker Arena.

 “They’re going to be ready to play,” Watkins said of Marshalltown. “If we come out with the same effort and energy we did in the second half they’re going to beat the breaks off us. And our guys know that.”

Despite Marshalltown’s losing record, SCC managed just a 58-56 home win over the Tigers on Jan. 21.

“It was a tough one in here, so it will be a tough game over there,” Watkins said. “Having to play a team twice in four days, five days, it’s going to be hard. That’s what I’m more worried about, how we’re going to respect them playing them on Saturday and then having to play them on Wednesday.”