(Sugar Grove, IL.) – Second-seeded Bryant & Stratton College from Milwaukee grabbed the upper hand in the first half and forced Waubonsee Community College to play from behind most of the game. The Bobcats (25-7) eventually held off the third-seeded Chiefs for an 80-73 victory in their Region IV Division II District 4 semi-final contest. The Bobcats now advance to play top-seeded Morton College (21-10) in the District 4 Championship next Saturday, March 9 in Waubonsee's Erickson Hall Gymnasium. The Panthers and Bobcats are set to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen 'live' on-line at www.GoChiefs.com
The teams had previously met back on January 5 on the Chiefs' court with the Bobcats prevailing 73-60 despite a 37-point, 14-rebound performance from Waubonsee's Josh McAuley. Just like that meeting this game was tightly contest at the outset with neither team holding more than a four-point lead through the early going. However, this time around McAuley picked up his second foul just four minutes into the game and was relegated to the bench for a large portion of the first half.
The Bobcats led 22-16 with six minutes to go when McAuley returned to the floor. Not long afterwards McAuley scored underneath off a nice feed from Simeon Strauss to get the Chiefs within a point at 22-21. However, a minute later the Chiefs' All-American candidate was whistled for his third foul and was forced to watch the remainder of the first half from the bench. Justin Brookens then nailed a long trey from the top of the key to give the Bobcats their biggest lead up to that point at 33-26 with 2:30 to go until halftime. The Chiefs tried to keep pace, but still trailed 37-31 at the break.
A three by Jose Sosa put the Bobcats up eight at 46-38 four minutes into the second half as the Chiefs continued to play catch up. An inside basket by Bryant & Stratton's Joe Duty made it 48-38 moments later. The Chiefs quickly responded though with a trey by Cory Adams and a driving lay-up by Kriston Dixon, but missed on a couple of ensuing scoring opportunities. The Bobcats took advantage and extended their led back to double digits a minute later.
After a Chiefs' time out Strauss drilled a long three-pointer and then took an offensive charge at the other end of the floor. A pair of free throws by McAuley got the Chiefs' deficit down to five points again at 57-52 with nine minutes to go. Bryant & Stratton continued to keep the Chiefs at arm's length. McAuley scored on a turnaround shot with four defenders on him to make it 64-57 with six minutes remaining as the Chiefs stayed within striking distance.
A pair of free throws by Adams got the Chiefs to within four points, but only for a moment as Brookens quickly nailed his fourth three of the game. Another trey by the Bobcats' Chris Thompson pushed the lead back to eight points with four minutes to go. The Chiefs trailed by six when Brookens connected for another long trey as the shot clock wound down to make it 73-64 in favor of the Bobcats. McAuley answered with a triple of his own and Dixon scored on a finger roll, lay-in to get the Chiefs back to within four.
Brookens then converted a pair of free throws before the Chiefs' Addison Bode was fouled on a three-point attempt with 1:12 left. The sophomore guard made two of his three tosses from the charity stripe to trim the deficit to four points once again. After a Bobcats' miss, Duty came up with a big steal to thwart the Chiefs' opportunity to get it to a one-possession game with 0:35 left. Duty was quickly fouled and then extended the Bobcats' lead to 77-71 with two more made free throws as Bryant & Stratton connected on seven of eight from the line in the final 1:20 of play to clinch the victory.
Brookens was sensational all game, finishing with 35 points including five baskets from long range. The freshman guard also grabbed six boards, handed out five assists and made three steals. Manny Jingco added 12 points and Sosa chipped in with 10 points for the Bobcats. McAuley closed out his Waubonsee career with 22 points and three steals. Dixon booked 21 points and corralled nine rebounds, while Adams tallied 13 points and dished out three assists, and Bode snagged seven boards.