The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 8, 2013

OCC falls in semifinal game

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When the game came down to the last shot, Arlington Baptist was prepared.

The Patriots blocked an 8-foot jumper by Adam Smith and walked off the court with an 80-78 victory over Ozark Christian in the semifinals of the men’s NCCAA Championship tournament Friday night at Central Bible College.

The victory sent Arlington into the championship game at 6 p.m. today against Ohio Christian, which defeated Florida Christian 69-64 in the other semfinal. Ozark Christian will face Florida Christian in the third-place game at 4 p.m.

“It’s the same old story. It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season,” said OCC head coach Chris Lahm, whose team had defeated the Patriots by 15 points at home and by six points at Arlington in regular-season matchups.

Kyle Wicklund, a 6-foot-6 senior, scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as OCC’s dreams of a national championship ended.

“I’m a senior, so that was my last chance,” said Wicklund, who took the inbounds pass with 14 seconds left but was unable to find the potential game-tying shot against Arlington’s swarming defense.

“The play was originally drawn up so if I had the lane, I’d take it,” Wicklund said. “If I didn’t, I was to kick it out to one of our 3-point shooters. They played great defense. More power to them.”

OCC turned down the 3-point attempt and instead passed inside to Smith, a 6-6 freshman whose turn-around jump shot was deflected.

OCC, 31-9, trailed by 10 points early in the second half, pulled to within 57-55 with an 8-0 run, then called timeout with 14:34 remaining.

“We took that timeout because we didn’t want them (the Patriots) to walk the ball up the floor any more,” Lahm said.

The Amassadors took the lead for the first time in the second half 60-59 on a 3-pointer by Philip Donna, who scored 13 points.

OCC led 66-65 on a steal and layup by Cody Goodwin with 8:39 remaining, tied the score at 69 when Wicklund made the second of two free throws, then tied the game again at 77 on Darrin Chitwood’s driving layup with 1:53 remaining.

After two free throws by Rod Reed, who scored 20 points, Wicklund made the first of two free throws to bring OCC within 79-78. Reed made the first of two free throws with 20.3 seconds left.

OCC called timeout with 14 seconds left to set up its last shot. The Ambassadors inbounded the ball to Wicklund, who was unable to shake loose from Arlington’s swarming defense.

“I did not draw up a very good play,” Lahm said. “We probably should have stuck with the stuff we’ve worked on.”

Josh Green led Arlington with 23 points. Jeremiah Ford scored 13.

Arlington was 30 of 61 from field (49.2 percent), including 8 of 15 from behind the 3-point arc. OCC was 31 of 64 from the field and 2 of 8 from 3-point range.

“We knew if they shot well from the 3-point line, we were in trouble,” Lahm said. “We didn’t shoot the ball real well.”

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