Danville, IL – Game 21 featured the first of two semifinal matchups. The top-seeded Triton College squared off against the 5-seed and reigning National Champions Southwestern Community College.
The Spartans came out hot to start the game. Led by Terence Shelby Jr., Southwestern made their first five three-point attempts to jump out to 19-5 lead in the first six and half minutes of the game. Shelby hit two threes and scored 10 points in that time while teammate Alijah Thomas made two threes of his own. Southwestern missed their first three at the 14:01 mark.
From that point, Triton would work back into the game. They made four threes of their own, two from Courtese Cooper. Cooper's came back-to-back during an 11-0 run for the Trojans. The other two came from Corey Shepherd, whose second topped off the spree and gave Triton the lead, 24-23.
Another Shelby three ended the run and put Southwestern back in front. The shot also ended a five-minute field goal drought for the Spartans. Shepherd closed out the half for Triton to give them momentum heading into the locker room.
He scored eight points in the final two minutes and 30 seconds. In one sequence, he made a three, took a charge, and made another three to give Triton a 36-32 lead. The Trojans would a take a 36-34 lead into the break.
Southwestern – 34
Triton - 36
1st HALF LEADERS:
#11 Corey Shepherd, 6', So. – 17pts, 6-8 FG, 5-7 3PT
#5 Courtese Cooper, 6'9, Fr. – 6pts, 3rebs
#2 Naje Brown-Henderson, 6'2, Fr. – 5pts, 2rebs
Southwestern regained the lead in the second half after a 7-2 run that included a three from Gatdoar Kueth.
The teams traded points until the 14:49 when Shelby hit his fifth three of the game and Southwestern led 46-45.
From there, Triton would seize control of the game. The Trojans relied on their larger guard to score in the post on Southwestern's smaller guards. Deonta Terrell, in particular, was able to ignite his game in the second half and motor Triton.
Triton went on a 11-0 run in five minutes, which Southwestern remained scoreless from Shelby's last three. He scored to end the drought at the 9:33 mark and make the score 56-48.
Four more quick points from that point put Triton up double-digits which they wouldn't relent the rest of the game.
Terrell scored 17 points, all in the second half. Fellow Trojan guard Naje Brown-Henderson scored 16 points, 11 of them in the second half. And Martrell Barnes finished with seven of his 11 points in the second half and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Southwestern, who shot 48-percent from the floor in the first half, went cold in the second half, shooting just 31-percent in the period.
Southwestern made just two field goals in the final five minutes of the game, which proved not to be enough as Triton coasted to a 85-67 win.
Triton College will advance to play the winner of Game 22: Pima Community College vs. Delta College in the championship game on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Southwestern Community College will play the loser of Game 22 in the third-place game on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Southwestern – 67
Triton - 85
#11 Corey Shepherd, 6', So. – 19pts, 7-9 FG, 5-7 3PT
#5 Courtese Cooper, 6'9, Fr. – 12pts, 8rebs, 3blks, 5-6 FG
#2 Naje Brown-Henderson, 6'2, Fr. – 16pts, 4rebs, 5asts, 5-6 FG, 3-4 3PT
#32 Martrell Barnes, 6'3, Fr. – 11pts, 12rebs, 5ast
#3 Deonta Terrell, 6'4, So. – 17pts, 6rebs, 6-14 FG, 5-7 FT