Hutchinson, Kansas ? The Panola College men?s basketball team fell to South Plains at the NJCAA national tournament, 88-84. With the loss, Panola finishes with their season 26-9 and winners of 13 of their last 15 games. ?Our guys played so hard all night long. We battled and battled and that?s all that I could ask for.? Head Coach Grant McMillan stated. ?We just ran out of time on our special season.? He added.
South Plains had control of the ball game and took their biggest lead of the ball game 27-16 with just under 11:00 minutes to go in the first half. Steady defense saw the momentum shift to Panola the rest of the half. Despite shooting 1-10 from the three point line, the Ponies were only down 41-36 at halftime. The second half Panola chipped away and took a 65-65 with 8:49 remaining in the second half. Multiple South Plains offensive rebounds help the Texans stretch their lead back to six before Panola came charging back. Panola cut the lead to three with just under two minutes to play and four points on two separate occasions but could not get any closer.
Leading the way offensively for Panola was Tope Arikawe with 19 points. Eric McGill recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 assists. KJ Byers chipped in with 12 points. TJ Killings and Bryson Lockley came off the bench and combined for 23 points. As a team, Panola shot 50 percent from the field but was outrebounded for the night, 46-32.
Panola?s season comes to a close with a school record 26 wins, which breaks last seasons of 24. The Ponies were the North Division regular season champions, Region 14 runner ups, reached the national tournament with the 15th overall seed, and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament round of 16.