SANBORN: It took extra time on Sunday to settle the Region III title game between second-seeded Genesee CC and top-seed Niagara County CC. The contest nearly needed more time, but a Ladji Fofana basket with less than two seconds to play in overtime and the Cougars trailing 81-78 was ruled a two, and Genesee came up short in its bid for a regional title, 81-80.
Genesee stormed out early and held a 26-6 lead in the first half with just under 12 minutes to go. Brian Fobbs and Jaheem Page accounted for seven straight GCC points and sent the Cougars on a 7-2 run to put Genesee up by 20.
With less than nine minutes to play in the half, Niagara trailed by 17, but closed the period on an 18-7 run to cut the GCC halftime lead to 37-31.
NCCC continued its momentum in the second half and scored 13 of the first 15 points of the frame to take a 45-39 lead.
Genesee played catch-up and tied the game at 52-52 with just over 12 minutes to play, and a Rahmel Thompson layup after a Cougars defensive stop put Genesee back in front 54-52 with 12 minutes to go.
The game stayed under three possessions the rest of the way, and a Thompson basket plus a free-throw gave GCC a 72-68 lead with 1:26 left in regulation, but the Thunderwolves ended the second half on a 4-0 run to tie it. Niagara had a chance as time expired, but missed a last possession shot to send the game into overtime.
NCCC scored the first basket of overtime, but Fobbs tied it just two GCC possessions later at 74 apiece.
Neither team held a lead larger than three in overtime and with 30 seconds to play and GCC trailing by three, Dejean Ellebb hit one of two free-throws to get GCC to within two at 80-78. The Cougars sent Niagara to the line on the next trip down the floor, and after the Thunderwolves converted on one of two free-throws, Genesee worked its way into the front court down 81-78. Brandon Peters drove his way into the lane and found Fofana in the corner with less than five seconds to play, who hit a jumper that was ruled inside of the arc and went through with less than two seconds left in overtime. Niagara successfully inbounded and ran out the remaining time to earn the Region III title.
Fobbs led all scorers with 17 points. Peters finished with 16 points and four assists, Page added 15 points and nine boards, Thompson added 11 points, Ellebb grabbed 12 rebounds and scoredzx nine points, and Fofana finished with nine points and six boards.
Genesee's season ends with a 18-14 overall record. Niagara County CC will move on to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournament, which will take place in Danville, IL from March 21-25.