Runnin' Rebels stun Navarro for Men's tourney title

Lee College's Chris Blake (left) beats a Navarro defender with the dribble during the second half of Saturday's Region XIV Men's Final. (Jake A. Waddingham | Tyler Morning Telegraph).

Lee College made history Saturday night at the Herrington Patriot Center.

For the first time, the Rebels are headed to the national basketball tournament.

Led by tourney Most Valuable Player Jamal Jones, the No. 5 seed Lee upset No. 2 Navarro College, 92-77, in the championship game of the Region XIV Tournament.

The regional championship means the Rebels will be at the NJCAA National Tournament, which is March 18-23 in Hutchinson, Kan.

For the first time, two teams from Region XIV will be at nationals in the same season. The NJCAA expanded the tourney to 24 teams. This region was granted two automatic bids this year, thus regional season champion Kilgore will also be at Hutch.

"I am so proud," said an emotional Lee coach Roy Champagne. "It's been a long 20 years at Lee College. People said we couldn't do it there.

"Marcus King deserves a tremendous amount of credit, my assistant. He is the best assistant in the country, Division I or junior college it doesn't matter. He goes out and gets kids that can survive on our campus. We can't just take anybody."

The Rebels looked like their namesakes from UNLV's heyday or the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers.

Their high-flying act entertained the fans as they played above the rim, while also draining NBA-range 3-point goals.

A shot clock was not needed for the school from Baytown.

Jones, a smooth athletic 6-8 sophomore wing from Wynne, Ark., had a game-high 28 points, while Don Thomas added 17. Jones transferred from Mississippi and before the regional he told that San Diego State, Missouri, TCU, West Virginia and Texas A&M have shown the most interest in him for the next level.

Chris Blake added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Rebels, who had never really come close to winning Region XIV previously.

The Bulldogs, who were appearing in their sixth regional final in seven years, were hoping for their second consecutive national trip.

However, Navarro (25-8) fell behind early and could never catch up to the Rebels.

Princeton Onwas led the Bulldogs with 18 points, while Harrison Hawkins added 17.

Joining Jones on the all-tournament team were teammates Deng Deng and Trahson Burrell, Navarro's Hawkins and Toney Foster, San Jacinto's Danny Lawhorn and Kilgore's Lonnie McClanahan.


Region XIV Men's

Basketball Championship

Lee College 92,

Navarro College 77

LEE — Chris Blake, 12; Deng Deng, 6; De'Vante Wilson, 3; Isaac Smith, 1; Don Thomas, 17; Jamal Jones, 28; Adam Ward, 3; William Knowles, 8; Trahson Burrell, 14.

NAVARRO — Princeton Onwas, 18; Terrance Syon, 7; Lamark Barnes, 0; Jonathon Benn, 4; David Woodard, 11; Harrison Hawkins, 17; Shannon Lilly, 2; Toney Foster, 4; Duan Wright, 5; Jamars Goodwin, 5; Brandon Scott, 2; Justin Phillipe, 2

THREE POINT GOALS — L: Deng, Wilson, Thomas (4), Jones (2), Knowles (2), Burrell. N: Onwas (2), Syon, Woodard, Hawkins (3), Wright, Goodwin.

HALFTIME — Lee 38-27.

RECORDS — Lee 24-10, Navarro 25-8.



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