SCC prepares for Kansas City after second-place MSC tourney finish

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By SCC Sports Information

St. Catharine College now has a 22-8 record for the season.

Half of those losses have come against Georgetown College.
The latest defeat came Sunday at the Frankfort Convention Center, when the Tigers were perfect at the foul line in the final minutes to claim the Mid-South Conference tournament by a 79-75 count.
The loss doesn’t signal an end to the Patriots’ season as J.T. Burton’s bunch will travel to Kansas City, Mo., to begin the NAIA D-I National Tournament, starting March 16.
For that reason, Burton found the conference runner-up finish just a little easier to take.
“When you consider that this is just our second year of post-season play in the NAIA, we have to be happy with what we have accomplished,” said the Patriot mentor, who is in his third season at the Patriot helm. “When you are talked about in the same conversation with a storied program like Georgetown, it is just crazy to see how that has happened in two years.”
It appeared for quite a while Sunday that the conversation would be about the Patriots being MSC champs, as they led by 15 in the first half before settling for a 41-31 halftime advantage. But the Tigers (29-4), who were also regular-season champions, opened the second half with a 17-2 run to lead 48-43.
Georgetown, eighth nationally in the NAIA, would increase the lead to 57-47 at the 11:55 mark, but the Patriots answered, eventually tying the game 73-73 when Xavier Keeling made one of two free throws at 1:10. The Tigers were 6-6 from the foul line in the final minute to claim the four-point victory. For the game the Tigers were 26-30 at the charity stripe, while St. Catharine was 15-27.
“It came down to free throws at the end,” said Burton. “But you also have to look at the turnovers we had (17 for the game), and what could have happened on those possessions when we didn’t get a shot.”
Antoine Watson led the Patriots with 17 points, and pulled in nine rebounds in the loss. He led four Patriots in double-figures, with Keeling, Carr and Brandon Johnson finishing with 11 points each. Keeling added 11 rebounds, with five off the offensive glass.     
Tyrone Shelley led all scorers with 19 points, followed by Vic Moses, the Mid-South Conference player of the year, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Patriots, ranked 18th nationally, reached the championship game with wins over West Virginia Tech on Friday, and over No. 24 Pikeville on Saturday.
St. Catharine easily won over West Virginia Tech (14-16), despite shooting only 38.9 percent overall and 21.7 percent from the arc in Friday’s 82-59 win. But 20 offensive rebounds allowed the Patriots to shoot the ball 14 more times than the Golden Bears, and they were 21-of-27 from the free-throw line for the game.  
Junior Kashiff Carr had 18 of his game-high 24 points before halftime. The first-team all-conference selection finished one rebound shy of a double-double. Watson followed with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pats, while junior Marquis Lee followed with 13 points.
 St. Catharine scored seven of the game’s last nine points Saturday to beat Pikeville 79-73, in a battle that featured eight ties and eight lead changes.
Pikeville (25-7) led by 12 points at 62-52 with 12:28 left to play, but a 20-7 St. Catharine run gave the Bears a 72-69 lead with four minutes left in the game. Vance Cooksey scored for the Bears to cut the lead to 72-71 at 3:11, but Carr got a basket and Marquis Lee hit two free throws to put St. Catharine ahead by five with less than a minute to play.
Carr finished with a team-high 23 points, while Lee added 19. Keeling added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Cooksey had a career-high 34 points for Pikeville.
Now it is a waiting game for the Patriots as to who and when they will play in the national tournament.
The final regular-season rankings come out Wednesday, followed by the tournament pairings later that day.
Log on to www.naia.org for tournament information.