NJCAA Region XIV is unquestionably among the elite conferences in two-year school basketball. On any given night, any Region XIV opponent can give the best of teams fits. Tuesday's Region XIV Championship Tournament was a perfect example of that as through the first three games of the evening, the lower seeded team had prevailed.
The CBC Cougars hoped to be able to do the exact same thing as they took to the floor for the final game of the evening vs. Panola College. Though the two team's seeding was separated by six slots - Panola (5) and CBC (11), the two teams were step for step with each other in the early portion of the game. Offensively and defensively the teams were lockstepped until the 12:00 mark when the CBC defense used a couple of key stops matched with a couple of long range bombs to jump out to an eight point lead 24-16. Panola adjusted and adjusted in a big way, and went a defense fueled run of their own. The Ponies put the clamps on the Cougar offense and turned those stops to points to surge to a 50-40 lead at the half.
The second half was more of the same as both teams traded shots and defensive stops. The Cougars could never make up the ground lost in that first half run, and eventual fell 83-95. Statistically the game was a near dead heat, again further demonstrating how close the teams in Region XIV are regardless of tournament seeding.
The Cougars were led again by their triumphant of guards. Malik Amos and Rashon Thomas were spectacular in their final game in Columbia and Navy; playing every minute and scoring 21 and 26 respectively. Dajuan Madden added 16 points before fouling out late in the second half. Forward Eric Williams dropped in 12, while big man Edmond Franklin gathered eight rebounds and blocked on shot.
The Cougars finish the season 12-15 (7-12 Region XIV) reaching the championship tournament for the first time since 2014-2015.