Slowing down Temple College’s no-brakes offense isn’t an easy task, but McLennan Community College found a way Wednesday night.
The No. 19 Highlanders controlled the tempo and played superb defense as they pulled away for an 86-73 win at the Highlands to remain tied for first place in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference standings.
MCC (21-2) and Collin County Community College both have 4-1 records while Temple (18-4) fell a game behind at 3-2.
“Any time MCC and Temple get together it’s a lot of excitement for the fans,” said MCC coach Kevin Gill. “Most of the time we’re near the top of the conference race and tonight was no different. We have to protect our home. We can use this for momentum.”
The Leopards came into the game averaging 114.9 points, and the Highlanders knew they couldn’t get into a fast paced game with them. MCC came out playing physical defense and wore down the Leopards as the game progressed.
“We got physical with them,” said MCC guard Xavier Armstead, a former Midway standout. “The first half we were playing sloppy but we picked it up in the second half. When they pushed us we pushed them back.”
The Highlanders featured a balanced attack as five players scored in double figures with Jashawn Talton scoring 16, Dayante McClellan 14, Javen Hedgeman 13, Armstead 12 and Marquez Cooper 11.
“I try to preach to share the basketball,” Gill said. “We try to spread the wealth, and it makes it difficult for the other team to try to pinpoint one guy. It also makes it a lot of fun for the guys knowing they have the opportunity to score.”
The Highlanders and Leopards traded baskets much of the game as they went into halftime tied at 39 and were still tied at 63 with 7:56 remaining.
Talton gave the Highlanders a 65-63 lead when he drove for a basket before Armstead stepped outside and drained a 3-pointer.
Temple’s Sammy Brooks came back with a 3-pointer but the Highlanders stretched their lead to 72-66 with Daniel Pinho Severo’s free throw and Cooper’s 3-pointer. With Hedgeman’s drive for a basket, the Highlanders stretched their lead to 74-66 with 4:38 remaining.
The Leopards found an offensive surge when Sebastian Karwoski posted up three times for baskets to cut MCC’s lead to 77-72. But the Highlanders owned the final three minutes as they finished the game with a 9-1 run.
Hedgeman started the late streak with a 3-pointer before Cooper drove for a basket. McClellan sliced inside for a basket before Talton broke loose for a breakaway slam to finish off MCC’s scoring with 28 seconds remaining.
“We’re an up tempo team, but against them we’ve got to be able to slow it down,” Gill said. “I tell our guys to keep them under 80, and we probably have a chance to win the basketball game. We got closer to our average than they did.”
Highlassies install roadblock on Temple
The McLennan Community College Highlassies found their defense at the exact moment they needed it and pulled out a 66-62 win over Temple College.
Trailing 58-50 early in the fourth quarter, the Highlassies (11-9, 4-2) controlled the game in the final minutes to seal a much needed win over Temple (11-10, 2-4) Wednesday night at the Highlands.
“This game showed this team is going to fight to the end,” said MCC coach Ricky Rhodes. “We had to get stops. That’s what we work on in practice and the kids buy into it.”
The Highlassies made their move with less than four minutes remaining when Jaylonn Walker hit Anndrea Lloyd inside for a basket. Walker then stepped outside and drained a 3-pointer to cut Temple’s lead to 60-59 with 2:50 remaining.
MCC grabbed a 61-60 lead with Keke Nowlin’s outside shot with 1:35 to play. After Temple came back to tie the game at 62-62 with Makayla Gatewood’s pair of free throws with 22 seconds remaining, Walker drew a foul and hit both free throws to give MCC a 64-62 edge with 11 seconds to play.
Temple’s Doriana Brown was called for an offensive foul before La Vega product Shekenia Green sealed MCC’s win with a pair of free throws with four seconds to play.
Walker led the Highlassies with 19 points as she hit four of 10 3-pointers while Nowlin produced a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Chandre Nunez led Temple with 15 points.