ABILENE — The South Plains College men's basketball team punched their ticket to the NJCAA Men's Basketball National Tournament Saturday night as they captured the Region V title for the second straight year, defeating No. 7 Odessa College 73-71 at Moody Coliseum.
Saturday's victory marks the seventh regional title for South Plains head coach Steve Green who will make his ninth appearance at the national tournament at the helm of the Texans. South Plains will now look to Selection Monday when the NJCAA announces the complete 24-team bracket live on NJCAA TV at 11:30 p.m.
"We really feel honored to win the region again, and tonight we had to beat a very good team to do so," Green said. "There's a nickel's worth of difference on any night between us and Odessa, and tonight it went in our favor. We made just enough plays to win the game, and we were able to get the ball inside and have some success."
Sophomore Gaige Prim, who was named the Region V Player of the Year on Saturday led all scorers with 27 points and 14 rebounds, capping the regional tournament with three consecutive double-double performances. Prim finished 9 of 12 from the floor and was 9-for-11 from the free throw line for South Plains.
Chris Orlina notched 20 points, three rebounds and a pair of steals, dropping in 6 of 11 shots from the field and went 7-for-8 from the free throw line. Jonah Antonio and Deon Barrett each scored nine points for the Texans who shot 46.8 percent from the field and were 25 of 30 from the charity stripe.
"If you want to play tomorrow, you have to win, and you can't count on anyone to give you a second chance," Green said. "You have to fight and fight and fight, and tonight we did enough to get us over the hump and we got to cut the nets down. The games we've lost this year have been just like this where we were unable to close it out, but somehow we found a way to get through in this one."
In a contest which saw nine lead changes and was tied five different times, points in the paint were essential for both teams as each side netted 30 points down low. Odessa capitalized with 27 points on 21 turnovers from the Texans, but struggled at the free throw line, finishing just 10 of 18 from the stripe.
James Reese led the Wranglers with 24 points over 38 minutes, dropping in 9 of 17 shots from the floor and was 6 of 13 from the perimeter. Tavon Jones tallied 10 points and three rebounds off the bench for Odessa while Jawaun Daniels chipped in nine and Aquam Butler netted eight. Odessa shot a 42.6 percent clip from the field and were 9 of 27 from the 3-point line.