The season has been exceptionally bright for SLCC Men’s Basketball. Going into their Jan. 30 game, the Bruins dominated their conference with a 19-3 record.
The Bruins entered the game against Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) with high intensity, and with six minutes left in the first half they had gained a ten point cushion.
Contributing to the lead, small forward Gary Payton ll caught an electrifying alley-oop thrown by Skyler Halford, which got the crowd into the game and sparked more intensity within the team.
“I run the floor, and they find me,” says Payton.
Due to SLCC’s aggressive attacks at the basket and efficient scoring in transition, by the end of the first half the Bruins had built a 13 point lead at 40 to 27. They displayed immense athletic ability, and an unmatched chemistry amongst the team while overwhelming their competition mentally.
“I feel like they started the game well; they established that they were a better team,” said local fan Vince Otiede.
Starting the second half, SLCC came out less aggressive, and CNCC used that letup to make a run for the lead.
In the attempt, CNCC looked to their shooting guard Khalid Smith to score, and with his help, the team got within nine points with ten minutes left in the second half.
SLCC had blown an extensive lead and was caught up in an intense battle against a team that they statistically dominate.
“After they cut it to single digits, we told ourselves to stop playing the score and play how we know how to play,” said Payton.
Bruin JuWan Buchanan came into the game and immediately scored six points in a two minute time span, displaying an incredible offensive repertoire, which stopped CNCC’s momentum.
“I just played within myself, and my teammates found me when they needed to,” said Buchanan.
Buchanan gave the Bruins the boost they needed, and with six minutes left in the game, SLCC regained a strong lead 72 to 59, with Buchanan and Halford at 12 points apiece. CNCC never got within single digits again.
The Bruins had control of the game and with three minutes left on the clock, Tyrell Corbin threw another lob to Payton who instinctively launched himself into the air to throw down his second dunk of the game.
Although the crowd loves to see a powerful slam dunk, Payton has different perspective.
“I love to catch dunks, but I’d much rather lock somebody up on the defensive end, plus it usually leads to a lob anyways,” says Payton.
With only days to go to reach the region tournament, SLCC is making noise with strong wins and great game play.