The Southwestern Spartans men's basketball team will be competing for a return-trip to the NJCAA DII National Championship during their Saturday, March 10, 3 p.m., game vs Iowa Central on their home court.
Just last night, Southwestern avenged one of their road losses from earlier this season when they needed it most. After losing 94-86 at Iowa Lakes in the regular season, the Spartans outlasted the Lakers, 102-93, in Estherville, during the Region XI semifinals. The win, and #5-seeded Iowa Central's win over #1-seeded Kirkwood, has the Region XI Championship game hosted by Southwestern for the second consecutive year.
Last year, it was a 98-90 victory over Kirkwood to secure a bid for the NJCAA National Tournament in Danville, IL. The stakes are just as high this season with the winner advancing to the March 20-24 NJCAA National Tournament.
Spartan Head Coach Todd Lorensen commended Iowa Lakes following last night's game.
"Iowa Lakes has a great team and they play exceptionally well on their home floor," stated Lorensen. "There were a few times where it wasn't looking great and our guys dug in, got stops when needed, and scored timely baskets. We are excited to be moving on, but know we have a huge challenge awaiting us in Iowa Central."
Southwestern's Terence Shelby, Jr. led the way with 25 points including the final six points on a 3-pointer and three free throws. Alijah Thomas added 20 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. D'Marqueyon Whittington poured in 17 points, while Gatdoar Kueth and Chad Moran had 14 and 11 respectively.
The Spartans will look to defend their Region XI Tournament Championship against an Iowa Central team who is 21-11 on the season. The teams split the regular season battle both protecting their home courts in games that came down to the final minute.
"It should be a tremendous game and atmosphere," commented Lorensen. "This is why you play the game. I know our guys are excited and we are looking forward to competing for 40 minutes."