No one took this opponent lightly, and it showed from start to finish Tuesday night. The No. 1 seed Roadrunners men's basketball team opened the NJCAA Region XIX playoffs by hammering visiting Montgomery CC 92-69 to advance to the Region Final Four at Brookdale Community College this Saturday.
The Runners played one of their finest all-around games this winter. Five players scored in double figures and the entire team played solid defense, creating numerous turnovers leading to transition points.
Leading the way were freshman forward Ja'Zere Noel, who collected a game-high 28 points, followed by teammates Alex Angeles (15), D. J. Henderson (14), Tyler Lunsford (12), and Stevynjaamad Hawkins (10).
The win earned RCGC a Final Four matchup against Union County Saturday night in a 7 pm tipoff.
While the Runners (28-3 overall) were the clear favorites Tuesday night, onlookers expected a tough battled from No. 8 seed Montgomery following January's down-to the wire win by RCGC over the Mustangs.
But the Runners raced out to a 47-34 halftime lead and then blew it open in the second half.
"We didn't realize how good they were the first time we played, and they surprised us," said guard D.J. Henderson. "This time we really turned on the defensive pressure. We didn't take anything for granted."
A big difference in this win proved to be the presence of top scorer Noel, who led all scorers in dominating the inside game.
"We didn't have Ja'Zere available in the lineup the first time we played them, and he is flat out a difference maker," said Wareham. "He is one of the most dominant players in all of junior college basketball, and his game keeps improving all the time."
The visiting Mustangs finished their season with 15-10 overall record. The Runners, meanwhile, have a date with Union County, which it defeated twice in two tough regular season games.
"We will be ready -- as we always are," said guard Tyler Lunsford. "We're excited to be in the Final Four."
The RCGC men's basketball team will face off against visiting Montgomery County College (PA) Tuesday night in the quarterfinal round of the NJCAA Region XIX playoffs.The tipoff will be at 7:30 p.m.
Coach Will Wareham's Roadrunners are the top seed in the Region XIX Tournament, and a win over Montgomery will advance the Runners into the Region Final Four March 2-3 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ.
The Roadrunners enter the tournament with a 27-3 overall record, having beaten Montgomery, 84-74 in January during the regular season. RCGC is paced by a full lineup of explosive scoring threats, including guard Tyler Lunsford and forwards Ja'Zere Noel, Stevynjaamad Hawkins, and Luciano Lubrano.
The No. 8 seed Mustangs (15-9 overall) defeated Camnden County College 70-68 last weekend to earn a date with RCGC.
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Here is the schedule for the Region XIX Final Four tournament at Brookdale:
Men's Basketball - Feb 23-Mar 3
MEN'S BASKETBALL - DIVISION III
February 23 - 1st Round
February 26 - Quarterfinal Round
March 2 - Semifinals hosted by Brookdale CC
March 3 - Region Championship hosted by Brookdale CC