JACKSONVILLE, TX -- It was quite a dramatic finish as the Kilgore College Rangers -- as an unlikely ninth seed in the Region XIV Tournament -- almost defeated No. 2-seed Tyler Junior College, but just came up short, 59-56, at Jacksonville's John Alexander Gymnasium.
The Rangers caught fire late in the season and defeated Bossier Parish in round one and upset No. 5 Trinity Valley in the quarterfinals and defeated Blinn College in the semis under head coach Brian Hoberecht in his tenth season at KC.
TJC's Desmond Balentine set the tone for the intensity for the second half of the championship game by knocking down a long three-pointer at the buzzer before halftime to put the Apaches ahead, 36-30, at intermission.
KC's Malachi Davidson tied the game up at 40 points, the game's first tie, with layup with 11:30 left in the game.
That's when TJC's Micah Thomas stole the show, nailing three-consecutive three-pointers to give TJC a 49-40 advantage with 9:55 left in regulation.
The next score came by an impressive layup by KC's Demiere Brown, assisted by Chad Bowie, to make the score 49-42 with eight minutes left.
TJC was fouled and hit one free throw. KC rebounded and Samory Gueye completed a nice hook shot to make the score 50-46, with two minues left.
KC tied it up once again at 53 points when Chad Bowie made an impressive move and made a layup with one minute left in the game.
TJC's Brian Warren responded with a nice move and a layup of his own to put the Apaches ahead, 55-53.
Bowie was fouled on KC's next possession and made one-of-two free throws to get within one point, 55-54, with 46 seconds left.
After a Ranger turnover, Warrren was fouled and hit both free throws to put TJC back up by three points with 13.5 seconds left, 57-54.
KC then missed a three-pointer, but Davon Newton grabbed the rebound in the air and dunked the ball to get within one point, 57-56, with 5.4 seconds left.
The Rangers were forced to foul with 3.5 seconds left and TJC's Tajuan Agee made both free throws to put the Apaches ahead, 59-56.
KC had one last shot after it quickly moved the ball down the court but the three-point attempt that could have tied the game at the buzzer was just short, hitting the rim.
TJC was led in scoring by the tournament's MVP Warren who scored 20 points (10 in each half). Agee was also in double figures for TJC with 12 points.
Bowie led KC in scoring with 18 points. Newton and Brown each scored eight points for KC.