The RCGC men's basketball season saw their season end in heartbreak Saturday night for the second year in a row as Union County College stunned the Roadrunners 76-75 in the Region XIX Final Four semifinal contest at Brookdale Community College.
Down by double digits in the second half, coach Will Wareham's team clawed back to within one point -- but they did not have enough time to get off a last-second shot for the win.
No. 4 seed Union County started the season at 0-14 but end up in the Region XIX title game against second seed Middlesex, scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm.
Union's Jordan Cawley was then fouled on the inbounds -- and he missed both attempts. But on his second attempt the ball bounced hard off the rim toward center court as time expired.
In the first half, RCGC guard Tyler Lunsford scored 12 points, but the Runners found themselves in early foul trouble and trailed 38-31.
The Runners finished their season at 28-4. They had beaten Union twice in the regular season. Ironically, they lost in the Region semifinals last season in the Final Four at Northampton County.
Final Four Tournament Preview
Tuesday night's 92-69 Region XIX quarterfinal triumph over visiting Montgomery County College featured classic RCGC-style basketball -- aggressive defense, balanced scoring and a wilingness to spread out the offense.
But in no way are the Roadrunners ready to let their guard down as they prepare for Saturday night's Final Four Four Tournament appearance against Union County College. in a 7:00 pm tipoff.
Coach Will Wareham knows he will need that same blend of balanced offense and pressure defense if his Runners are to reach Sunday's championship round against either Middlesex or Cumberland.
Leading the way offensively 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). Freshman guard Henderson proved to be a workhorse on defense, creating multiple turnovers that led to transition points and momentum shifts.
"It was one of our better efforts, and it's great to see that in a playoff game," said Wareham, whose team improved to 28-3 overall. "But it's time to move on. Union will be a tough opponent, and we will need the same level of intensity if we expect to advance."
The No. 1 seed Runners defeated No. 4 Union twice in the regular season with the first game going down to the wire in an 82-78 victory.
Sophomore guard Tyler Lunsford feels the Roadrunners woll need to continue locking down on defense and sharing the ball.
"Our defense has created a lot of opportunities, and we need to continue being unselfish with the ball," he said. "Once we lock down on defense, we're pretty tough to stop."
Last season the Runners qualified for the Final Four at Northampton, but lost a tough semifinal game to Cumberland, which ironically was coached by Wareham in 2017-18.
"It's time to bring home a Region title back to RCGC," said guard Henderson. "We're ready for the challenge."
MEN'S BASKETBALL - DIVISION III
March 2 - Semifinals hosted by Brookdale CC
No. 6 Cumberland vs. No. 2 Mioddlesex
No. 4 Union vs. No. 1 RCGC, 7:00 pm
March 3 - Region Championship hosted by Brookdale CC, 2:30 pm
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ROADRUNNERS QUARTERFINAL WIN OVER MONTGOMERY CCC
WATCH REGION XIX SEMIFINAL LIVE MARCH 2 7:00PM BELOW...