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Knights beat Baltimore 85-64 to make Final Four!
The CCRI Knights men’s basketball team returned to action in the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Nationals Wednesday night in Danville, IL. The Knights faced the Panthers of Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) from Baltimore, MD in the “Elite Eight” for a 9:00pm EST tip-off. The Knights defeated the Panthers 85-64. With the victory the Knights advance to the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball “Final Four.” The Knights record also improves to 30-4 on the season the best-ever for any CCRI basketball team, men or women. No.3 seed CCRI will face No.2 seed South Suburban College Friday evening at 7:00pm EST (6:00pm CST) in the national semi-final game.
The Knights knew this would be a very tough contest after watching the Panthers comeback from a 15-point deficit to defeat No.6 seed Erie Community College on Tuesday. BCCC came out on fire and mounted a quick 7-0 lead just a minute and a half into the game causing Head Coach Rick Harris to call a timeout to regroup the Knights. The Knights scored the next seven points, six by Roger Livramento (Central Falls, RI) highlighted by a killer tomahawk dunk that forced the Panthers to call their own timeout. The Knights took their first lead 15-13 at the 12:35 mark of the first half on a basket by Co-Captain Trevor Mabry (Norwich, CT). With the score tied 15-15 and 11:45 left “Knights’ Nation” go a scare as Bryan Yarce (Cranston, RI) went down with an injury and had to come out of the game. Yarce returned later in the half much to CCRI’s delight. The Knights and Panthers were in a battle in the first half with neither team able to gain separation. The Knights went into halftime with a narrow 36-33 lead. In the first half CCRI was led by Livramento, who had a first half double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while adding two blocked shots. Also playing well was Keith Lackerson (Brooklyn, NY) who filled-in for Yarce and played both point and shooting guard to help CCRI with eight points and three rebounds in the half and Isaac Medeiros (Johnston, RI) also added seven points and three rebounds in the first half. Their contributions were even more important because their leading scorer Desmond Williams (Torrington, CT) was held scoreless in the half.
In the second half the Knights were able to extend their lead to 10 points by the12:21 mark with the score 52-42. More importantly Desmond Williams started “feeling it.” Williams, though he was not playing to his normal form, showed tremendous mental toughness to fight through his first half shooting woes to explode for 23 second half points. From there, the Knights were able to extend their lead to 17 points by the 8:07 mark on a Williams’ jumper to make the score 65-48 CCRI. From there the Knights kept rolling and got the lead to as much as 25 points before winning by the final score of 85-64 to advance to the “Final Four!”
Leading the way for the Knights was Desmond Williams who scored all of his 23 points in the second half including 9-9 from the free throw line while adding seven rebounds four assists, two blocked shots and a steal. Also playing well was “the double-double machine” Roger Livramento who added 16 points and 15 rebounds to go with three blocked shots and a steal and Bryan Yarce played tough and added 13 points, five assists and two steals. Also playing very well was Keith Lackerson added 12 points and eight rebounds with two assists and three steals, Isaac Medeiros added 12 points, nine rebounds and a blocked shot and Co-Captain Trevor Mabry added six points, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
Coach Harris commented after the historic victory: “Great win for our kids first and foremost. Going to the ‘Final Four’ is all due to their hard work, determination and togetherness. This victory is also due to all the support we receive from the CCRI Athletic Department, the CCRI community and all of our loyal fans. I continue to be so proud of this group and feel blessed to be able to coach them.”
The Knights will face South Suburban College Friday at 7:00pm EST in the NJCAA Division II Men’s Basketball “Final Four” with a chance to advance to the NJCAA National Championship game!