By Bailey Terry
The Blue Dragon basketball team traveled to Wichita on March 7, to the Koch Arena to face the Dodge City Conquistadors in the championship game of the Region VI tournament. The Dragons won 76-60. The Dragons will enter the NJCAA Tournament with a record of 26-8.
This is the 18th recorded time that the Dragon men’s basketball team made it to the NJCAA tournament.
Bashier Ahmed, Bronx, N.Y., Austin Budke, Beloit, and Akbar Hoffman, Newark, N.J., all made the All-tournament team.
DeShawn Freeman, Rocky Mount, N.C., was named the MVP of the Region VI tournament.
Freeman had his third double-double of the tournament scoring 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds and also added five assists. He went six for 14 overall shooting and five for nine from the free throw line.
Ahmed made three of four three-pointers taken to end the game with 17 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.
Budke added 11 points, while Keanu Pinder, Perth, Australia, had his third double-double of the season with 10 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks.
The Dragons shot 50%, hit six of 11 threes and 12 of 20 free throws and they held the rebound advantage with 42-37.
To start off the game, the Dragons hit three-consecutive three-pointers from Budke, Ahmed, and Zach Winter, Andover, helping the Dragons to a 9-2 lead.
The Conquistadors took the lead of 14-13 with 10 minutes to go in the half. In just the first half, there were eight lead changes.
Dodge City was ahead at 25-19 with seven minutes to go. The Dragons took the lead at 33-31 with two minutes to go, they fell to a 39-33 lead at halftime.
As the second half started, the Dragons took a 13-1 run, to give Hutch the advantage, 46-41 with 15 minutes remaining.
The Dragons went on another run, 10-4 with nine minutes to go, the score was 56-49.
Hutch kept the lead the remainder of the game and won, 76-60.
The Dragons went to the Koch Arena in Wichita to play in the semifinals on March 6 and won 77-75 against the Butler Grizzlies.
Budke ended the game with 11 points after hitting two three-pointers, while Hoffman had 10 points, six rebounds, and four steals.
Jaylan Robertson, Clinton, N.C., scored eight points, all in the first half.
Hutch made 25 of 58 shots, made 9 of 21 three-pointers and 18 of 30 the free throw line
The Dragons had a season high of 15 steals.
The first 14 minutes there were seven lead changes and six ties.
When the game was tied at 21-21, then Robertson sparked a 10-2 run that ended with the score of 33-25 with the Dragons ahead.
The Dragons kept the lead to end the half of 38-31.
Hutch held the lead until there was 16 seconds left the score was tied at 75.
Then Ahmed drove the ball to the basket with three defenders on him and he saw Freeman open and dished the ball to him and he scored the last points of the game.
The Dragons won the game 77-75 in the last seconds.
The second game for the Dragons in the Region VI tournament was against the Coffeyville Ravens and they won 94-88 in overtime.
Freeman had a career high of 37 points and a career high of 18 rebounds.
The Ravens started the game off by hitting three-consecutive three-pointers, the lead 9-0. The Dragons couldn’t gain the lead and were still down 19-7 with just under 13 minutes to go.
As the first half ended the Dragons came back within one point, 35-34. The Dragons tied the game at 45 with five minutes to go in the half.
The game was tied 79-79 at the end of regulation and was sent into overtime.
At the start of overtime, the Dragons went on an 8-0 run to take the lead of 89-81.
The Dragons won the game 94-88.
The Dragons will play at home in the Sports Arena on March 18 in the second round of the NJCAA tournament at 8 p.m.