State Fair’s and Highland’s community colleges are two of the hottest teams in the nation.
Both carry 14-game win streaks into Saturday’s NJCAA district playoff game at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
The Roadrunners bring a 24-6 record and a Region 16 championship into the game. Highland (27-6) won the Region 4 title Tuesday night.
Both have already qualified for the national tournament that begins March 17 in Hutchinson, Kan. However, the winner will receive no lower than a No. 12 seed at nationals. The loser will be seeded between Nos. 13 and 16.
SFCC coach Kevin Thomas said that his players know the importance of this game.
“Our guys are really competitive. They want to win regardless,” Thomas said. “(We’ve been telling them that) this game is important. It helps us get a team that we match up with favorably (in the first round).”
Highland will be no slouch, though, and the two teams have a history. They played twice this season on neutral courts. Highland won the first matchup 81-74 in a tournament Nov. 10 at Mattoon, Ill. The Roadrunners won 92-75 Nov. 30 at Moberly.
“They’ve got some size,” Thomas said. “They have three kids — one’s 6-10 (sophomore Marvin Jones) and the other two are 6-8 (sophomore Marco Henry and freshman Moshawn Thomas). They are physical inside and rebound well. We did a bad job of boxing out and extending the first time. The second game, we did a better job of that.”
Moshawn Thomas erupted for 27 points in a reserve role in Highland’s victory. He was held to two points in the rematch.
The SFCC coach believes his team is more capable now of handing Highland’s big men.
“I thought we did a good job Saturday against a really good frontcourt,” Thomas said of the Roadrunners’ 84-70 win over Moberly Area in the Region 16 championship game. “We did a good job boxing them out, especially on (6-7 Romond) Jenkins.”
Both SFCC and Highland feature balanced offensive attacks.
Five Highland players average nine or more points a game with Deon Andrews averaging a team-high best 14.6. Grant Prusator averages 12.5, Henry 9.5; Jones 9-2 and (Moshawn) Thomas 9.1.
Kevin Punter is one of four Roadrunners who averages in double figures. He averages a team-best 20 points. Joe Thomasson, who had 11 assists and eight rebounds to go along with seven points in the two teams’ second meeting, averages 16.8 points as well as a team-high six assists. Kedar Edwards averages 16.2 points and Dondre Alexander 11.7.
Note: The Roadrunners received votes in the most recent NJCAA national poll.