LARGO, MD – The Montgomery Raptors became the third match up low-seed in a row to come out on top in the quarterfinals of the Maryland Juco Conference Men's Basketball Tournament, as the No. 5 seed defeated the No. 4 seed Baltimore City Panthers 95-84. Montgomery's Collin Turner, a 2-time Maryland Juco Student-Athlete of the Month this season, eclipsed 1,000 career points in the victory. In an offensive outburst, the Raptors shot 50% from behind the arc (10-20). A 9-0 run, supported by three straight three-pointers gave the Raptors a 32-18 lead with 8:22 left in the half.
Afanna Offor was the catalyst to the Raptors offensive explosion, going 5-for-5 from three-point range. Offor would go on to lead all scorers in the half with 15 points. MC was up on BCCC by 10 points at halftime 44-34. A comfortable 10-point halftime lead for the Raptors turned into a 19-point cushion eight minutes into the second half. Affana Offor continued his hot start, finishing with 20 points on an impressive 6-of-7 shooting, all of which came from three-point range. With 9:50 remaining in the game, Montgomery's Collin Turner sunk a free throw, giving him his 1,000th career point in just a season and a half.There was no time for celebration though, as the Panthers slowly clawed their way back into the game.
The lead shrunk to five points down the stretch, as the Panthers edged closer with 1:25 left to play. The comeback bid came up short in the end, as the Raptors were able to pull away late. Freddie Harris finished off the game with an electrifying dunk to cap an impressive double-double performance with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Johnson also contributed 20 points in the 11-point victory.
The Raptors fell to top-seeded Harford CC 74-70 in a semifinal match-up at Prince George's Community College. The Fighting Owls controlled the first half with productive 15-32 shooting (47%), while the Raptors hit just 10-38 (26). With 7:20 remaining in the first half, the Fighting Owls built a 16-point lead in what looked to be the beginning of the end for the Raptors.
However, some timely three-pointers hit by Raptor's Afanna Offor and Collin Turner helped Montgomery stay within striking distance. Despite a half statistically dominated by the Fighting Owls, the Raptors went into the break only trailing 36-27. Turner started to take over the game for the Raptors and almost single-handedly cut the lead to four with 10:06 remaining.
The Raptors refused to go away and put pressure on Harford as the game neared its conclusion. Turner had a chance to cut the lead to three on a fast break, but a Harford defender blocked his lay-up attempt. The Fighting Owls held on to the four-point victory. Turner led all scorers with 30 points, 25 of which came in the second half and Ramel Davidson chipped in with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
February 24, the Raptors enter the NJCAA DIII Region XX Tournament as the #1 seed and will play in the semi-final game against the winner of #5 CCAC Boyce and #4 Penn Highlands. The championship game will be Sunday at 3:00 pm. Westmoreland County Community College (PA) will host this year's NJCAA DIII Region XX Tournament.
(Daniel Fama and Jack Creegan wrote quarterfinal recap; Jack Creegan and Daniel Fama wrote semifinal recap; Retrieved from MDJUCO.org)