TYLER- The KC Rangers advanced to the second round of the Region XIV Tournament winning a nail-biter 63-61 over Trinity Valley Thursday afternoon.
KC had a solid first half that ended with the Rangers up 36-27.
During the half the Rangers shot 40 percent from the field and 73.3 percent from the foul line.
KC dominated the points in the paint during the first half, winning the battle down low 18-6. Points off of turnovers were another key factor in the nine-point halftime lead as KC had 16 to Trinity Valley’s 2.
The second half did not go as smoothly for the Rangers with their field goal percentage dropping to 21.2 percent, allowing Trinity Valley to make a close game out of the contest.
“I think we got out of a little bit of rhythm in the second half and you got to give Trinity Valley a lot of credit for causing that disruption,” said Head coach Brian Hoberecht.
KC had four players score in double figures in the game. Erick Diouf led all Ranger scorers with 12 and finished one rebound shy of a double-double. Lonnie McClanahan, Maurice Taylor and Quinton Upshur added 10 points each.
The ability of meaningful contributions to come from multiple players has helped KC throughout the season.
“Well I think one of the strengths of our basketball team is its versatility this year on both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively, and again today we were able to prove that that was beneficial to us,” Hoberecht said.
With 1:19 to play the Rangers found themselves knotted up with Trinity Valley, 61-61. Both sides missed scoring opportunities until the final 11 seconds of the game when Erick Diouf hit two free-throws putting KC up 63-61.
Trinity Valley still had life but turned the ball over to the Rangers with four seconds remaining. But KC had a turnover of its own with two seconds to play, giving Trinity Valley one last chance. A missed three-point attempt by Tramain Parker followed by a McClanahan rebound iced the game for the Rangers.
KC will have no time to rest as the grueling tournament schedule will continue to push them forward. Coach Hoberecht is not worried about keeping his team motivated to compete.
“I really feel like the motivation to some degree takes care of itself just because it is the tournament time of the year and everybody wants to compete for championships, so there’s a little bit of built-in motivation because it’s the region tournament,” Hoberecht said. “This group has a an unbelievable competitive drive to them and they really care about winning, so it’s been a good run and they’ve been easy to coach and easy to motivate along the way because of that competitiveness.”
The Rangers have now won eight straight games and will look to continue their winning ways against Lee who defeated Jacksonville 101-96 Thursday night. The game will tip-off at 6 tonight from the Herrington Patriot Center at University of Texas-Tyler.