With 8:19 to play in Sunday's National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region III Division II championship, the No. 2-seed Genesee Community College men's basketball team trailed No. 1 Monroe Community College, 67-49. It was the largest deficit (18) faced by the Cougars on the afternoon and it looked as though GCC would be sent home after a finals trip for the second year in a row at the hands of MCC.
Sunday turned out different, however as Genesee ended the game on a 26-7 run to earn its first regional title since the 2002-03 season.
The Cougars turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and went the last 7:03 without a field goal to reach the break trailing 43-30.
An 11-4 run to start the second got GCC to within 47-41 at the 16:37 mark, but the Tribunes used a 20-8 run of their own to extend the lead to 18 with 8:19 remaining.
Tournament MVP Naquil Jones then took over for GCC, scoring 12 of his game-high 27 points in the final eight-minutes. The Cougars stepped up defensively, holding MCC to just three field goals down the stretch and with 1:11 left to play, were within one at 74-73.
The Tribunes had one last look out of a timeout but came up short and GCC dropped MCC for the first time in three tries this season.
Jones also collected eight rebounds and dished out three assists. Joshua Doughty finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, Gabriel Burroughs, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, added 11 points and Perry Murray and Ervin Mitchell both finished with eight points apiece. Perry Murray also recorded three blocks, which ties him for the career record for most blocks in GCC history (106).
Genesee (22-8) will now host the District II championship on Sat., Mar. 7 at GCC. The Cougars will face Dean College (MA), which defeated the Community College of Rhode Island on Sunday to win the Region 21 title. Game time to be announced.