Neosho County Community College needed a game to reestablish some confidence in a season filled with highs and lows. Playing the Sterling College junior varsity team at home on Monday night was exactly the contest needed at this point in time.
Ending a two-game losing streak, the Panthers (9-13) dominated Sterling with a final score of 130-79 behind four 20-point scorers in the game. Leading the way was Jonathan Breeland Jr. with a career-high 25 points and 5 rebounds; Jae Min-Yang scored 24, tied a season-high 14 rebounds and dished out 5 assists; Chanute product Corbett Kimberlin produced a career-high 22 points and 4 assists; Daniel Titus put up a season-high 21 and 5 rebounds; and James Taylor scored a season-high 18.
Still, the game was somewhat of a matchup at first. With NCCC leading by just one point by a score of 18-17 with 13 minutes to go in the first half, Breeland Jr. decided enough was enough. The freshman guard scored 12 points in a row, including two 3s, as NCCC stroked four 3s in a row to put the score at 35-20 over Sterling with 9:36 to go in the first half.
Breeland Jr. did a nice job of taking advantage of his first step and quickness, getting into the lane, while spotting up for wide-open 3s to pour the gasoline on the NCCC fire – an 18-3 run that wouldn’t have the Panthers looking from behind any longer.
“I just saw that they weren’t playing up on me, so I just had to keep attacking and shooting the ball,” Breeland Jr. said. “The three-ball was falling, so I just kept on shooting. Me attacking can get everybody involved, because if I’m attacking, people are going to come in and try to guard me and I can just kick it out for everybody else.”
Several other players benefited from Breeland Jr.’s aggressiveness. Yang did a nice job of driving to the lane from the perimeter, pivoting and splitting double teams on the block for a bucket and scoring in the low post, all the while staying relentless on the glass. Kimberlin did an exceptional job of staying patient and looking for what the defense gave him, including wide-open 3s and some opportunities in the lane for point-blank layups. Titus was the beneficiary of wide-open 3s off of pick-and-rolls as well as some layups. And Taylor had some knockdown shots as well as some easy ones created from the flow of the offense.
None of these opportunities, though, would have been available if it wasn’t for point guard Jadis White, who had a career-high 21 assists with 8 points. This career-high broke the NCCC single-game assist record, which was held by former NBA and NCCC player Jannero Pargo, who held the feat with 16 assists in a game versus Houston Quest back in 1999.
White controlled the flow of the offense beautifully, including behind-the-back moves to keep the dribble alive to find an open man on the fast break, as well as diving deep into the paint, faking for a shot but finding a wide-open shooter on the perimeter.
A microcosm of his night was White leading the fast break before finding Davonte Yates for an alley-oop slam, taking the score to 58-35 at halftime.
But defense wins ballgames, and White’s defense, along with his compatriots, cannot be overstated, either. Head coach Jeremy Coombs took note of the entire game.
“We wanted to reinforce some of the things we try to do every day in practice,” Coombs said. “This wasn’t an ideal situation to have this game at this time of year. Basically we’re trying to get 30 games in like everybody else. It’s just how this game fell in here. But it actually worked out good for us in the fact that we’re kind of going into a phase right now where we need to get some confidence going. That’s the biggest thing we wanted to preach was just go out there, play and have fun. Just do what we do and let them see some success.
“I know we’ve done those things and have been pretty good at it, we just haven’t been able to get it over the top and win the games. We’ve been in every game, but we just haven’t been able to figure out how to win those games. And so I think it was really good for us to have some fun and go out there and work on some things that we’ve been working on and show that we can do it and win games that way.”
NCCC canned 16 3s on 40 percent shooting and shot 57 percent from the field versus Sterling’s 33 percent from 3 and 41 percent overall. The Panthers had a season-high 36 assists on the day to just six turnovers, while Sterling racked up 12 assists with 20 turnovers.
The high scorer for Sterling (1-4) was Sean Nordberg with 24 points and 5 rebounds, and he was the major reason his team stayed with NCCC very early on in the game thanks to his 3-point shooting (four 3s) and offensive rebounding.
NCCC Freshman Ryan Robertson saw action for the first time this season. And at the end of the contest it was fitting for White to continue to play his game, which was drive deep in the paint to find Robertson for a 3. Those were Robertson’s first points of the season as a flare of raucous cheers erupted from NCCC faithful.
Big men Remy Lemovou and Chol Adup didn’t play in last game versus Coffeyville Community College and didn’t play Monday night due to the flu. Deonte Hicks, who has an injured left shooting hand, will have a doctor’s appointment next week to get a timetable for him to return.
Both NCCC teams play Cloud Community College in Concordia today.
Coffeyville: NCCC teams also played Coffeyville Community College on Saturday at home.
The Panthers lost 80-69. Four players, however, were in double figures, including Jonathan Breeland Jr. with 16 points and 6 rebounds, Corbett Kimberlin with 14 points and 4 rebounds, Jae-Min Yang with 12 points and 7 boards, and James Taylor with 11 points.
NCCC shot 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3 with 10 assists on 12 turnovers, versus Coffeyville’s 51 percent from the field and 39 percent from beyond the arc with five assists on 10 turnovers.
NCCC’s Lady Panthers, on the other hand, dominated Coffeyville by a score of 89-59. Both Chrissy Brown and Jessica Jones scored a season high of 27 points. Hayley Stiger had 15, while Morgan Bolen tallied 10 for her team.
The major difference in the game was the fourth quarter, when the Lady Panthers outscored Coffeyville 35-9. It was a 3-point party, as NCCC registered 20 3s on 42 percent shooting, while Coffeyville had just five 3s on 21 percent shooting.
Jones went 8 of 14 from 3, while Brown was 6 of 11. Brown was also a major contributor in taking care of the ball, as NCCC committed just 12 turnovers in comparison to Coffeyville’s 21.