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McCook Community College Logo on the left with the words McCook community college basketball mens on the right

MCC men step up the defense in 53-51 win over Scotties

McCook Community College Logo on the left with the words McCook community college basketball mens on the right

HIGHLAND, Kan. – The McCook Community College men’s basketball team closed out the semester Tuesday clamping down on the defensive end on the road to beat an eight-win Highland Community College team 53-51.

“If you like a hard-fought defensive game then this was the game for you,” said MCC Coach Jacob Brandl.

Neither team was able to get things going offensively in a half that ended with MCC leading 18-16. MCC shot just 23.3 percent from the field and made one of 11 shots from the 3-point line but were able to hold the lead because the Scotties shot 12.9 percent from the field (four of 31), went one of nine from distance and made just seven of 17 free throws (41.2 percent).

“Defensively we were really good and really tough,” Brandl said. “The only complaint I have on that end is we have to stop putting guys on the foul line. That kept them in the game.”

The two teams combined to miss the first 10 shots of the game before Highland’s Denzel Knight hit a 3-pointer at the 16:23 mark of the first half. It was the only 3-pointers the Scotties made in the half.

MCC’s first points came on a D'Andre Dennis (Charlotte, N.C.) jumper at 15:08 to make it a 5-2 Highland lead. Just 18 second later Highland took a 7-2 lead before MCC came back to tie it on a Damien Perry (Wareham, Mass.) 3-pointer at 13:16 and then a Julian Lual (Calgary, Alberta) jump shot at 11:52. Highland stretched the lead to 14-7 with 7:32 left but MCC went on an 11-2 run to take the first-half lead. Damiene Boles Junior (Dayton, Ohio) hit a couple baskets early in the run and a couple of free throws late.

MCC committed eight turnovers in the first half and eight more in the second half with MCC miscues leading to 14 HCC points.

“On the offensive end offensively we have got to start valuing the basketball more. We won’t survive with averaging 16 turnovers a game,” Brandl said.

Both teams maintained the intensity in the second half with MCC taking a 29-25 lead on a Perry basket at 15:45 but the Scotties knotted the game 29-29 just 54 seconds later. MCC seized the momentum and upped the lead to 36-31 at 11:02 and to 42-36 with 8:42 remaining in the game.

A Lual 3-pointer on an assist by Beni Funguala (Stockholm, Sweden) at 7:39 gave MCC its biggest lead of the game at 47-38. Highland responded with an 11-0 run to take a 49-47 lead with 3:43 remaining. Highland’s Kendon Knight made a jumper at the 3:01 mark to give his team a 51-49 lead but that was the last points of the game for the Scotties.

Lual hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 51 with 2:34 to play. MCC went just one of four from the line before Fungula hit his final foul shot with 18 seconds left to give MCC the two-point win.

“We need to step up and be tougher at the free throw line. This game should have been put away early with how well we played defensively,” Brandl said.

MCC finished the game shooting 37.7 percent from the field, made four of 20 3-pointers, and just nine of 19 free throws (47.4 percent). MCC out-rebounded HCC 43-39.

Highland finished the game shooting 23.8 percent from the field, made two of 17 shots from the 3-point line and was 19 of 31 from the line (61.3 percent).

Lual led MCC with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Fungula scored eight points and D'Andre Dennis scored seven and grabbed nine boards. Perry scored seven points to go along with six rebounds.

Boles Jr. came off the bench to score 10 points to help MCC outscore Highland’s bench 18-9. MCC also got five points from Trey Summers (Greeley, Colo.) and three points from Ezichi Kalu (Lagos, Nigeria).

“But hats off to Highland as well. They are tough and play well at home. Winning games on the road is tough,” Brandl said.

Highland goes to 8-4.

MCC finishes out the semester 3-12, having won two of the last three games. After the winter break, MCC will return to take on Central Community College in a Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference game in the first of two early January home games. The CCC game is Jan. 8 at 4 p.m. and MCC will host Lamar Community College Jan. 11 at 7 p.m.

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