The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 10, 2014

Southern tops Central Oklahoma in title game

Lions’ Magee earns tourney MVP honor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A 3-D assault — defense, depth and determination — produced a strong second half as Missouri Southern decked Central Oklahoma 84-72 Sunday afternoon in the men’s MIAA Postseason Tournament championship game at Municipal Auditorium.

The Lions (24-5) notched their third postseason tournament championship — first since 2000 — and claimed the league’s automatic berth to the Central Region. They are seeded No. 3 in the region at Mankato, Minn., and will play No. 6 Fort Hays State on Saturday.

“It’s a lot of emotion, a lot of pride with my team,” said senior forward Jordan Talbert, who once again filled his stat line with seven points, five rebounds, seven assists and a block. “I’m so excited that we actually closed out and did what we said we were going to do. I’m so proud of my team right now.”

Slim Magee, voted the tournament’s most outstanding player, began the postgame net-cutting festivities to the chant of “Slim VP.”

“They just told me to go first and cut the string,” Magee said.

Magee, 6-foot-11 senior, collected 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots against the Bronchos, raising his three-game tournament totals to 45 points, 32 rebounds and eight blocks. Still yet, he was caught by surprise by the honor.

“I thought Marquis Addison (also an all-tournament pick) would have been the MVP,” Magee said. “That’s why I was so shocked. He’s a real hard worker.”

Addison, 6-4 senior from nearby Olathe, Kan., tallied 21 points — 16 in the second half — to lead the Lions. And when the Lions got their transition game untracked early in the second half, Addison was in the middle of it.

Cameron Cornelius tied the game at 42 with a free throw with 17:58 remaining, and his 3-pointer from the left wing on the next possession put the Lions ahead to stay.

Just over a minute later, on four consecutive trips, Cornelius went coast-to-coast for an athletic layup to avoid a charging foul, Addison hit a 15-footer, a layup and one free throw at the back of 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 fast breaks for a 54-44 lead with 14:21 left.

“We were pretty stagnant in the first half,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “And then in the second half we were able to get stops and get some things in transition. Once we got the lead, we started extending our defense a little bit.”

Then in just over a four-minute span, Addison and Austin Wright nailed 3s from the wings, Matt Everson and Greg Renfroe made field goals and Blaine Miller hit a trey to extend the margin to 67-51 with 9:15 remaining.

Central Oklahoma forward Josh Gibbs captured game honors with 24 points. He made 7-of-15 shots while scoring 18 first-half points, but he was just 2-of-11 in the second half, hitting treys with 6:31 left and in the final minute.

“Gibbs was giving us problems in the first half, but we wanted to stay on him and make sure he got tough shots,” Talbert said. “And eventually they were going to miss shots.”

“We doubled him when we could, and Jordan did a great job on him, got the job done,” Everson said.

The Lions’ bench was again productive — three Wright 3s, eight points each from Renfroe and Everson and Miller’s trey. By contrast, the Bronchos (20-10) played only six men and received 19 points from Aaron Anderson and 15 off the bench from Philip Brown.

“Our depth was a factor,” Corn said. “It’s tough playing three games in three days, particularly when a lot of their guys have to log so many minutes.”

And determination. The Lions were not about to allow their coach to leave Municipal Auditorium disappointed.

“It’s definitely part of a storybook ending,” Talbert said. “Marquis and I feel like we failed by not getting him the regular-season championship. So to come out here and get the postseason championship, and we haven’t done it since I’ve been here, to come out and get that done is a huge accomplishment.”

“We knew we could not lose this game for these seniors and Coach Corn,” junior guard Lane Barlow said. “At halftime we looked at each other, like ‘We can’t get back on that bus without this net.’ We knew we had to get Coach Corn his net.”

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