HUTCHINSON, KAN. — The Kilgore College Rangers were eliminated from the NJCAA national men’s basketball tournament following a heartbreaking 53-51 loss to No. 2 seed Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) this afternoon.
The Rangers fought hard in a back-and-forth game that saw 14 lead changes.
KC was led in scoring by Quinton Upshur with 13, and Lonnie McClanahan added eight.
Ronnell Crockett led Spartanburg with 18 points, and DaQuan Jefferies contributed 11.
KC led at halftime 23-19 and stayed in the contest until the very end. With just over seven seconds remaining Kilgore called a timeout to draw up a play.
With time winding down Maurice Taylor took a three-pointer for the win that rimmed out at the buzzer.
Head coach Brian Hoberecht was proud of what his team accomplished this season.
“We’re very proud to be 27-6 and have a season where we made it to the national championship and we’ve got a situation were we can build on the foundation of this,” Hoberecht said.
Kilgore shot 42.9 percent from the field but only 14.3 percent from the three-point line.
Spartanburg finished with 44.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
Kilgore had 18 turnovers in the contest that led to 17 Spartanburg points.
The Rangers played a smaller lineup than usual to try to match up better with Spartanburg, but in the end, Spartanburg was able to execute its game plan better than KC.
“I thought they got to play to their identity better than we did today,” Hoberecht said.
Ranger freshman forward Kalif Wright spoke after the game about what playing for the Rangers this season meant to him.
“This is the best group of guys I’ve played with. I’m going to miss it. We’re just going to work hard and hopefully come back next year,” Wright said.
Kilgore finished the year with its first NJCAA Tournament berth since the 1993-94 season.
Hoberecht said the Rangers are hopeful to continue to build a strong foundation from their success this season.