The Red Ravens improved to 4-2 in the early goings of 2018 and 15-4 overall with a win against rival Independence Pirates.
Prior to opening tip, the packed house celebrated the NJCAA Basketball Hall of Fame induction of Jay Herkelman. The celebration from the crowd carried over to the game as the fans were on their feet rocking Nellis Hall.
Early on, the game was tightly called by the officials. By halftime, there were a total of 30 fouls called and a total of 46 points scored. Very uncharacteristic of the Red Ravens team. With the officiating playing the game tight--for both teams--the players found themselves in foul trouble quickly.
"I told the guys three things," said Herkelman on his halftime meeting. "Quit fouling. Quit turning ball over and make our free throws."
The team responded with just that.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Jones came out on fire, nailing a total of 3/6 from behind the arch. Jones had a game high 18 points on the night. Jones was dynamic in his shooting, often pausing to bring the defender on him and then draining the three. The game was another outstanding performance by Jones who has averaged 15.7 points per game in his last four starts. Jones also pulled down five defensive rebounds on the game. Each time Jones caught the ball you could hear a collective breath from the crowd and seeing the ball go through the net, a foundation rattling roar from the crowd would ensue.
Cedric Roland also had another dominating performance. On the night Roland posted 13 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block. Since the team returned on January 3rd, the big man has averaged 12.6 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game, and .6 blocks per game. The consistency of his game (scoring, rebounding, defending) has been a big reason behind the wins in the second half of the season.
The Pirates played hard as well. Their long, lanky, athletic players made it difficult at times for the Red Ravens to move the ball down low or for the Red Ravens to out rebound them.
While the Pirates plaers made it difficult, the Red Ravens proved with sophomore Johua Hill, that it wasn't impossible.
Hill tallied another gritty performance as he pulled down 10 total rebounds, 7 of which were defensive.
"He's put in the work," said Herkelman. "He's the guy that puts in extra work outside of practice; and it's showing."
With Jones, Roland, and Hill playing at a high level, and freshman Casey Benton continuing to be a consistent factor, the Red Ravens look poised to make another run in the second half of the season.
The Red Ravens travel to Dodge City Wednesday, January 24, to take on the Conquistadors.