Highlighted by Alijah Thomas' career-night of 27 points, Southwestern Community College's men's basketball team overcame a slow start and sprinted away from Central Community College (Neb.) to a 93-71 win Wednesday in nonconference action.
Thomas had 11 first-half points while the Spartans struggled, and turned the switch back on about midway through the second half.
His outside shooting and dribble penetration enabled him to tear up the Raider defense all evening.
“I just know that we got off to a slow start so we kind of needed a spark off the bench, I just had to come in and give us that little lift," Thomas said.
With Central sticking relatively close to the Spartans early in the second half, KeShawn Wilson decided it was his time to step up.
A Luke Cadzow bucket in the post brought the Raiders within four at 39-35.
Wilson responded by hitting a trio of 3-point daggers in consecutive fashion to extend the Spartans' lead to 48-35.
When Central scored a few buckets minutes later to bring the score back to 57-50, a collection of Spartan players came through with baskets, with Alijah Thomas leading the charge. In a flash, the score was 70-52 and out of reach.
Thomas, who started the season trying to get healthy, is finally finding his footing.
“The last month of the season he’s been rock-solid for us," Lorensen said.
“Tonight we finally saw the fruits of his labor the last couple months.”
Southwestern went to its bench early, and benefited from the play of Lavon Hightower (14 points) and others in addition to Thomas. Lorensen had already expected to play the second group off the bench anyway.
“We just didn’t anticipate them playing them that early in the game," Lorensen said. ”I just wasn’t overly-thrilled with our energy and some of our mindset and decision-making.”
The second group came in and gave Southwestern a boost. He was pleased with the
"Their energy was great," Lorensen said. "They weren’t always as sound execution-wise as we would like but they definitely gave us a look.”
Former Spartans coach Jerry Drymon was in town leading the Raiders. Drymon coached Southwestern's men's basketball team for four years before heading to Dubuque to coach Clarke University for six seasons. He has been at Central since late summer 2014.
Southwestern's Brodric Thomas sat out the game but is expected to play Saturday when the NJCAA Division II third-ranked Spartans (24-1, 5-1) play host Ellsworth (11-14, 3-5) at 3 p.m.
Central — Totals — 27 12-14 71, Scoring — Marco Fabieth 17, Luke Cadzow 14, Ruben Fuamba 14, Jerome Dixon 10, Tristan Hoover 10.
SWCC— Totals — 32 13-17 93, Scoring – Alijah Thomas 27, Lavon Hightower 14, KeShawn Wilson 13, Jordan Johnson 10, Bennie Curtis 9, Nate Lee 7, Khalid Edwards 5, Malachi Canada 4, Jamil Maddred 2, Calvin Chambers 2. 3-pt. goals — 16 (Alijah Thomas 6, Wilson 3, Johnson 2, Hightower 1).
SECC (71) 30 41
SWCC (93) 37 56