BLUE DRAGONS TAKE ON NW KANSAS TECH IN 37TH REGION VI SEMIFINAL APPEARANCE
For the second-straight Region VI Tournament, the Hutchinson Community College men's basketball team will play non-Jayhawk Conference opponent Northwest Kansas Technical College.
But Friday's 5 p.m. meeting at Charles Koch Arena comes a bit deeper in last season's opening-round contest at the Sports Arena. The Blue Dragons (25-7) and Mavericks (20-12) will meet in the first of two men's semifinal games. Pratt and Seward County play in the other semifinal.
The game will be videostreamed on the Blue Dragon Sports Network and will be broadcast on Blue Dragon flagship station KHUT-FM (102.9) and on sister stations KWBW-AM/FM (1450/98.5) beginning at 4:50 p.m.
Last season's run to the Region VI championship for the Blue Dragons started with a thrilling 90-82 victory over Northwest Kansas Tech in the 2013 tournament's opening round. Alex Davis had 27 points and HCC shot nearly 54 percent from the field. Gian Clavell had five 3-pointers and a game-high 34 points to lead the Mavericks.
The 2014 Blue Dragons advanced to their 37th Region VI Tournament semifinal with their best defensive effort of the season after a 71-61 victory over archrival Butler on Thursday. Both Kadeem Allen (21 pts, 10 ast.) and Darrick Wood (16 pts., 11 rebs.) posted double-doubles and HCC held an opponent to a season-low 61 points, just 27 in the second half.
Northwest Tech needed a little overtime - three extra periods to be exact - to eliminate top-seeded Independence 97-92 in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Three different Maverick players posted double-doubles led by James Sylvester's 32 points and 10 rebounds.
Hutchinson has played basketball since 1928. Northwest Kansas Tech is in its third year as a program.
Blue Dragon history in Region VI Tournament
Nineteen Region VI championships turned into 17 appearances in the NJCAA Tournament and two junior college national championships for the Blue Dragons.
Since the regional system was instituted by the NJCAA in 1954, the Blue Dragons are a staggering 122-43 in regional play.
HCC makes its 58th Region VI appearance, missing only in 1989 and 1991.
Last season, Hutchinson ended a 16-year Region VI championship drought, winning its 19th Region VI championship.
In 2010, the Blue Dragons ended a five-year drought of semifinal appearances and have advanced that far in Steve Eck's first two seasons at the helm.
Hutchinson and Northwest Kansas Tech will be playing for the second-straight year in the Region VI Tournament. HCC defeated Tech 90-82 in the opening round in 2013.
The Blue Dragons are 3-1 in quarterfinal matchups under current head coach Steve Eck. They are playing in their seventh consecutive quarterfinal and their 52nd quarterfinal appearance. HCC is 41-11 in quarterfinal games.
About the 2013-14 Blue Dragons
+ The Blue Dragons led the Jayhawk West in scoring offense this season at 88.7 points per game. HCC broke 90 points 13 times and 100 points five times. HCC is shooting 49.0 percent overall, 31.3 percent from 3-point range and 71.9 percent from the foul line.
+ The Blue Dragons have had their defensive struggles at times this season. HCC is allowing 82.3 points per game, which if it stands would be the highest scoring average allowed in program history. Opposing teams are shooting 43.0 percent overall and 31.6 percent from 3-point range.
+ All-American Kadeem Allen led the Jayhawk West and is the second-leading scorer in the nation at 26.6 points per game. He is shooting 46.1 percent overall, 31.9 percent from 3-point range and 75.5 percent from the free-throw line. He is averaging 7.4 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
+ Missing a total of 14 games over two different segments of this season because of injuries, second-leading scorer DeShawn Freeman has played in the last three games. Freeman is averaging 15.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 55.6 percent.
+ Sophomore center Coreantae DeBerry is averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. DeBerry is third in the NJCAA in field-goal percentage at 69.1 percent.
+ Sophomore Tafari Whittingham made a return to the lineup on Thursday after missing 12 games because of an injury. He is HCC's leading rebounder with 7.5 boards per game. He was averaging 9.8 points per game. Whittingham had three double-doubles this season.
+ Sophomore guard Darrick Wood is averaging 13.7 points per game. He is shooting 44.5 percent from the field. He is second on the team with 35 makes; Wood is shooting 31.8 percent from distance. He shoots 81.1 percent from the free-throw line.
+ After scoring a career-best 20 point vs. Pratt on Feb. 15 vs. Pratt, freshman Austin Budke has battled the injury bug. Budke is averaging 8.2 points per game, 9.2 points in Jayhawk West games this season. Budke is shooting 48.3 percent from the field, including 36.3 percent on 29 makes from 3-point range. Budke is also averaging 3.1 rebounds per game.
+ Sophomore Nathan Jackson has scored in double figures in 19 of 32 games, including 8 of his last 10 games. Jackson now averaging to 9.8 points while shooting 54.6 percent from the floor and 5.7 rebounds per game. Jackson had his first career double-double vs. Seward County in February.
+ Sophomore B.J. Watson and freshman Darius Freeman have been huge spark plugs for the Blue Dragons during the rash in injuries this season. Watson has started 8 of 30 games played and averaged 4.1 points and 1.0 rebound per game. He had a career-high 23 points and six steals vs. Cloud County. Freeman comes off a career-high 11 points with a pair of 3-pointers vs. Allen in the Region VI opening round.
+ The Blue Dragons have been hot and cold in the rebounding department this season. The Blue Dragons average 40.8 rebounds per game, including 13.0 offensive rebounds per game. Hutchinson has allowed 39.7 rebounds per game, including a huge 16.2 offensive boards per contest. Opponents have cashed in an average of 13.8 points per game on second-chance points. Hutchinson has been out-rebounded 13 times this season.
+ HCC turns the ball over 14.2 times per game and forces 14.5 takeaways per game.
+ The Dragons are averaging 17.0 assists per game.
+ HCC is second in the league in blocked shots with 5.4 per game. Hutch had a season-high 10 swats vs. Garden City and tied that mark with 10 on Thursday vs. Butler.
+ Because of injuries, Blue Dragon players have missed a combined 48 games this season. Zach Winter is out for the season with an injury.
Scouting Northwest Kansas Tech
+ Northwest Kansas Tech comes in as perhaps the hottest team in Kansas, winning 7 of 8, including Region VI Tournament victories over Cloud County and top-seeded Independence. The only loss during that stretch game in overtime to No. 6 Northeastern Junior College.
+ Northwest Tech head coach Jace Herl is the brother of former Hutchinson women's basketball player Jade Herl.
+ The Mavericks come into the Region VI Tournament semifinals averaging 76.1 points per game. NWKTC shoots 42.3 percent from the field, 32.2 percent from the 3-point line and 68.9 percent at the free-throw line. The Mavericks make right at six 3-pointers per game.
+ Defensively, the Mavs have been staunch, allowing just 58.6 points per contest this season. Opponents are shooting a collective 40.2 percent, just 32.6 percent from 3-point range.
+ Sophomore guard Gian Clavell is Northwest's leading scorer at 16.7 points per game. Clavell is shooting 39,8 percent overall from the floor, but is a very capable 3-point shooter at 36.6 percent with a team-high 86 makes this season. Clavell also averages 5.8 rebounds per game. Clavell is a 78.7 percent free-throw shooter.
+ James Sylvester comes off a 32-point game in the Region VI quarterfinals against Independence. For the season, Sylvester is averaging 11.1 points per game, shooting 39.6 percent from the field. Sylvester shoots 75.7 percent from the free-throw line.
+ Jackson Hussey averages 9.0 points per game. Marcus Walden and John Caraballo averages 8.9 and 8.8 points per game, respectively. Lamar Britton is at 7.5 points per contest.
+ The Mavericks are a plus 16.4 in rebounding margin. They average 46.4 rebounds per game, while surrendering 28.0. Carraballo is the team's top rebounder at 6.8 per game.
+ Northwest averages 13.5 turnovers, while forcing 11.4 per game.
+ Tech averages 11.7 assists per game. Five different players have 40 or more assists.
+ The Mavericks 7.4 steals and 2.7 blocked shots per game this season. Clavell and Britton have 44 and 43 steals, respectively. Izaid Hicks has a team-high 22 blocks.
Series history against Northwest Kansas Tech
This will be only the second meeting ever between Hutchinson and Northwest Kansas Tech. Both have come in the Region VI Tournament.
The first meeting came in the regional opener last season when Hutchinson won a 90-82 thriller.