The Bruins faced off with the College of Southern Idaho four times this season, two of which they lost. Although the losses might have stung the Bruins, it never stifled them as they knocked down the Golden Eagles the last two times.
March 1 marked the fourth time Salt Lake Community College would match up with their most prominent rival, CSI, but more importantly it marked the second time they would take home the Region 18 championship.
Shooting guard Gary Payton II once again recorded a double-double in a very high intense defensive battle as he scored 12 points and snatched 14 rebounds. He was also named League Tournament Most Valuable Player.
“It’s always fun and exciting when you get to play your rival for the championship and come out on top,” says Payton.
The Bruins’ suffocating defense only allowed the Golden Eagles to reach a mere 19 points with two minutes left in first half of play.
Six-foot freshman point guard and cousin to Gary Payton II, Zerrion Payton came off the bench and played with composure unexpected from a freshman.
“I’m just proud of my team – especially the young guys for stepping up in big games. I always tell them the three C’s – cool, calm and collected and that’s exactly what they were all tournament,” says Payton II.
Before the first half was over, the Bruins were able to force the Eagles scoreless for entire five minutes.
“We were the number one defense in our league this year – we all bought in to it and play defense as a whole team,” says freshman guard De’sean Parsons.
As the intensity of the game was heating up, so did CSI’s head coach Jeremy Cox, causing him to get awarded a technical foul for sharing words with the referee.
Sophomore shooting guard Jaden Jackson would go to the line to shoot two free throws for the technical foul and knock down both.
Jackson finished with 11 points and two assists on the night to aid his team in a very important game.
This was not your typical high scoring, high action game; however, the tenacious defense that was executed by the Bruins was exciting.
SLCC ended up winning the bout 62 to CSI’s meager 49 points explaining what solid defense can earn you.
“Yeah we enjoyed the win because worked hard for it, but by Monday its time to start looking forward,” says Jackson.
Next up, the Bruins will be facing Mesa Community College March and the winner will earn an automatic bid to the NJCAA National Tournament held in Hutchinson Kansas.