HUTCHINSON, Kan. — It all appeared to be over multiple times.
All the work since the summer. All the work throughout the preseason. All the wins in the regular season. Everything it took to be regional and district champions just to have a chance to win junior college basketball’s ultimate prize.
It was almost all for naught. More than once, it appeared New Mexico Junior College was about to send Indian Hills home two days and one game into the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Tournament.
The Warriors were pushed to the brink in more than one way by the Thunderbirds, who built a pair of double-digit leads in the second half of the first second-round contest in this year’s tourney. IHCC rallied from deficits of 16 and 11 points, forced overtime on a pair of late Lester Medford free throws, avoided a last-second loss in OT thanks to an incredible Roosevelt Scott block and finally pulled away in the second overtime session from the foul line.
Five-straight foul shots by Marcus Posley helped the Warriors seal up a 102-94 win over the 18th-ranked Thunderbirds. IHCC survived four players lost to fouls and one lost to injury to move on to the national quarterfinals on Thursday at noon.
“I felt fairly certain New Mexico was going to try to take us out of our element. I thought we were uncharacteristic that we didn’t finish off 3-on-2 and 4-on-3 chances,” Indian Hills head coach Barret Peery said. “We missed 10 of those in the first half and we were 0-11 from 3-point land.”
As a result, a Warrior basketball team that had scored over 100 points 24 times heading into the national tournament suddenly had just 29 at halftime and a three-point deficit to fight out of. The deficit quickly grew larger as New Mexico, coming off a six-field goal first half, scored three-straight baskets to open 15-2 start to the second half.