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Conners’ Late Shot Helps Keep Archers in Tourney

March 21, 2014

Cortez Conners  
Cortez Conners hit a 3-point shot with four seconds
left to give the Archers a 72-70 win over Potomac
State in the NJCAA Tournament.

Cortez Conners buried a 3-point shot with four second left to give the St. Louis Community College Archers a 72-70 win over Potomac State in the consolation semifinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Tournament in Danville, Ill.

“We stayed alive. It's a great feeling,” said Steve Lee, who was serving as head coach in Randy Reed’s absence. Reed missed the contest because of teaching obligations back in St. Louis.

The Archers (22-11) trailed by as many as 12 points in the second half, but dialed up their defensive pressure and found a way to contain Potomac’s Derylton Hill, who dominated in the paint with 32 points and 12 rebounds, and force several key turnovers.

“Hill was killing us,” Lee said. “We decided to try to slow him down with a two-zone, and hopefully they would miss shots, and we could get a couple of quick baskets to get back in the game.  Then we just had to execute our offense. “

The strategy paid off. The Archers erased the 12-point deficit largely behind Randy Reed II, who led the squad with 25 points.  Jaylen Fulton, who hit a crucial 3-pointer with 28 second left to cut the deficit to four points at 70-66, finished with 11 points.

Conners, who was held to six points in the first half, saved his best for last. Trailing 70-66 with 15 seconds left, Conners was fouled on a 3-point attempt. He drained all three free throws to cut the Potomac lead to one point. A missed one-and-one free-throw opportunity by Potomac’s Reggie Banks gave the Archers life. Lee called a timeout with 12.2 seconds left to set up the final play, and the Archers ran it to perfection.

Lee was confident the Potomac defense would collapse on Reed in the lane since he had been a threat down low throughout the contest. When the defenders did collapse on him, Reed found Conners open on the left wing, and Conners drained the winning 3-pointer to finish with 14 points.

“Cortez is our best 3-point shooter, he’s been hitting them all year,” Lee said. “(During the timeout), ‘tez said ‘Coach, I think I can hit it from the outside,’ and I said, ‘I think you can, too.’ I’ll take a risk with that jump shot, and he hit it.”

The Archers will face either Garrett College (McHenry, Md.) or South Suburban College (South Holland, Ill.) in the consolation finals at noon Saturday (March 22).  The game will be broadcast live on http://www.ihigh.com/njcaatv/index.html.

Tournament Information