(Sugar Grove, IL.) - With the commencement of post-season play, every team faces a potential 'one-and-done' scenario. One loss and your season is suddenly over. So the mantra at this time of year often becomes just 'survive and advance.' That was the case for third-seeded Waubonsee Community College in their Region IV Division II Tournament first round game against sixth-seeded Illinois Valley Community College. The Chiefs (18-12) rallied in the second half and then hung on to edge the Eagles 82-76 behind a 28-point, 12-rebound performance by 6'8" center Josh McAuley.
Waubonsee trailed throughout most of the first half as the Eagles (9-21) connected on six three-point shots and went 12 for 13 from the foul line. A tip in at the buzzer by Illinois Valley's Christian Walker gave the Eagles a 44-37 lead as the teams headed to the locker room. Sparked by the defense of Tahjay Blackmon, who finished the game with five steals and took six offensive charges, the Chiefs rallied and pulled within one point at 51-50 just six minutes into the second half. It remained close over the next four minutes of play until the Chiefs went on a 17-5 run, taking a 74-63 lead on a trey by Blackmon with four minutes to go. Waubonsee still led by 10 points with two minutes remaining, but the Eagles clawed back to within striking distance. A three-pointer by Joe LaShonse made it just a five point game with 0:43 to go. However, on the ensuing inbounds McAuley broke free from the Eagles' over aggressive defense and finished with a one-handed, tomahawk dunk off a feed from Simeon Strauss to put an exclamation point on the Chiefs' win.
A potential NJCAA All-American, McAuley proved to be too much to handle all game as he drew numerous fouls on the Eagles' outmatched post players. The sophomore from Aurora West High School finished the game 12 of 15 from the foul line, while also dishing out four assists, making three steals and blocking one shot. Strauss and Bradlee Mills both chipped in with 13 points, Addison Bode handed out six assists, and Blackmon also snagged six rebounds.
The Chiefs advance to play second-seeded Bryant & Stratton College from Milwaukee this coming Sunday, March 3. The Bobcats (24-7) were 92-61 winners over seventh-seeded Prairie State College. The teams are set to play in Waubonsee's Erickson Hall at 6:00 p.m., as the last of four semi-final contests on the day. Waubonsee is the host site for the Region IV Division II Women's and Men's Basketball Tournament. Four semi-final women's contest will be played this Saturday, March 2 beginning at noon. Four men's semi-final games will be held on Sunday. The championship games are set for the following Saturday, March 9 with women's title games at noon and 2:30 p.m., and men's title games at 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All three days each of the games can be seen 'live' on-line at www.GoChiefs.com Additional tournament information can also be found at the GoChiefs.com website.