The task was simple, but oh so difficult. Go undefeated and keep playing or lose and end the 2010-2011 campaign. That’s what was before the basketball squads as they journeyed to Twin Falls, Idaho last week for the Region 18 Tournament. Despite valiant efforts from both teams, the end of the Bruins hoops season came just short of completing that task.
The Bruin men were seeded third going into Thursday’s first round, giving them a match-up against Colorado Northwestern Community College. As many teams had done throughout the season, SLCC took it to CNCC, winning 84-52.
The Bruins dominated in multiple categories to secure the victory, out-rebounding the opponent 55-29 and hitting 47 percent from the field in comparison to 31 percent for the Spartans. Alfonzo Hubbard led Salt Lake with a double-double, scoring 25 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Jason Gamblin added 18, and Patrick McCollum had 10.
Having moved one step closer to the region crown, the Bruins took on the College of Eastern Utah the following day in the semifinals. Salt Lake again dominated the glass, picking up 17 offensive rebounds en route to an 86-72 win. The scoring was very balanced, as Gamblin and Hubbard each scored 19. McCollum had 18, Given Kalipinde scored 16, and Jordan Bernardo chipped in 12.
Facing the College of Southern Idaho on their home floor in the title game, Salt Lake got off to a rough start as CSI built an 8-0 lead. They cut the lead to a single point on multiple occasions in the first half, but could never get over the hump as Southern Idaho took the region crown in a 94-86 win to end Salt Lake’s season.
The teams were rather even in the offensive categories, but the old adage that defense wins championships rang true once again. CSI had 5 blocks to SLCC’s 2, out-stole the Bruins 11-8, and out-rebounded them 40-32. In their final game as Bruins, all-region honorees Hubbard, McCollum and Gamblin led again with 27, 22, and 20 respectively. Salt Lake finished the season with a 25-8 record.
Going into the Women’s Tournament as the top seed in the region, the Lady Bruins had a bye in the first round of play. Opposing Snow College in round two, the contest was a similar rematch to the regular-season finale. Coach Betsy Specketer described that one as “a game of runs,” and this one was no different.
Facing an early 26-12 deficit, SLCC went on an incredible 31-4 run to hold a 43-30 lead in the second frame. The Badgers didn’t quit, clawing their way back into the game, but a 32-19 rebounding edge for the Lady Bruins was too much to overcome. SLCC advanced with a 65-62 win. Haley Holmstead led Salt Lake with 19 points, while Jami Mokofisi had yet another double-double with 16 points and 14 boards. Alli Blake and Marissa Robbins combined for 25.
A close battle throughout, the Lady Bruins came up just short on Saturday, as North Idaho College took region with a 69-59 win. With the lead never getting larger than seven for either team during the game, SLCC led 58-57 after two Mokofisi free throws with 3:11 to play. Three of their 24 turnovers came in the waning minutes, however, and NIC was able to capitalize, pulling away to victory. All-region honorees Mokofisi, Holmstead, Blake, and Sofia Hepworth led the scoring department as the Lady Bruins finished the campaign with a 24-5 record. Coach Specketer won Region 18’s Coach of the Year.
In Utah, the baseball team continued their hot play at home against College of Southern Nevada. SLCC took two from the Coyotes on Friday, 2-0 and 9-2.
The first game nearly produced a no-hitter, as Salt Lake was blank through five. They connected on three hits in the sixth, though, giving them their two runs. SLCC’s Adam Gunn was solid on the mound himself, going the distance in the win. The bats woke up in game two, as Salt Lake won 9-2. Dom Taylor hit a solo shot, and Tyson Popoff had three RBIs in the win.
On a windy Saturday at Cate Field, the Bruins won two more, taking the first 2-1 in dramatic fashion, and using one inning’s production to win game two, 3-0. With the game tied at 1 going into the last frame , the Bruins played small ball to capitalize on a Mitch Manning lead-off walk to win. A.J. Carman went the distance on the mound.
In game two, SLCC used a three-run third inning to win. Eddy Alvarez, Tyson Popoff, Kyle Bilbrey and Cory Raymond each had hits in the inning that produced the offense. Josh Mooney nearly went the distance in a great outing. The Bruins are riding a 16-game win streak.