Mon February 26, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Blue Jays Capture Regional Championship Saturday Night
Emerson- The Blue Jays soared through the competition this past weekend, as they claimed the Regional Tournament Championship on Saturday night with a 66-64 win over Bradley in the Finals. Nevada earlier knocked off Mineral Springs in the first round, 67-53, and beat Emerson 42-32 in the Semifinals. “We had a great weekend, my guys played well, and we won games in different ways,” Coach Jamario Bell said about his team's 3-0 showing this weekend.


Nevada 67                           Mineral Springs 53


Nevada came into the tourney as a one seed Thursday night, needing a win to secure a spot in this week's State Tournament. I am going to call this the “Clipboard/Wake Up” game for the Blue Jays. Fast forward to the fourth quarter when Nevada was up by 1 point with 5:28 remaining. A frustrated Coach Bell signaled timeout, the guys huddled around him and all you heard was the clipboard slam and the words “Wake Up” over every other sound in the gym. Following the timeout, the Jays woke up and went on a 12-0 run to pull away from Mineral Springs and win the game by 14 points and clinch a spot at state. “I knew that was the moment to get the guys pumped up, and they answered the call,” Bell said after the game. Three Blue Jays scored in double-figures on Thursday night as Brycten Harris and Kavion Coleman each went for 16 points. Cardi Adair played a heck of game and dominated the paint as he scored 14 and kept Mineral Springs off the glass. Kobe Hughey made some big plays and scored 8 points and Keyonte Wingfield added 7 points. Brogan Rhodes scored 4 and Justin Myrick added 2 points. 


Nevada 42                           Emerson 32


DEFENSE!!  That was what won the game for the on Friday night for Nevada. “Our defense played lights out tonight. When you hold a team like Emerson to just 32 points in their home gym, that speaks wonders of the effort our guys played with tonight,” Coach Bell said after the win Friday night. Cardi Adair got the offense rolling early on with 8 points in the opening quarter. He finished the game with 10 points. Keyonte Wingfield led the Jays with 11 points Friday night, including 4 points in the fourth quarter. Kavion Coleman added 8 points, Brycten Harris scored 5, Caleb Moss and Brogan Rhodes each hit a big 3-pointer for the Jays, and Kobe Hughey scored 2 points. 


Nevada 66                           Bradley 64


It was standing room only on Saturday night as the much-anticipated matchup between Nevada and Bradley took place with the Regional Championship up for grabs. And everyone in the gym got their money's worth on Saturday night as the game went down to the wire. This was the fourth game between the two teams, with the home team winning every game. 

Nevada led the entire way until Bradley hit a big three-pointer with 1:10 remaining in the game. After that shot from Bradley, Brycten Harris came down and hit a big mid-range jumper to give Nevada a 1-point lead. Bradley answered in their next trip down the floor to regain the lead with less than 30 seconds remaining. Cue Brycten “Big Shot” Harris as he drilled a 3-pointer that would prove to be the game winner. A great defensive stop by the Jays defense secured the win for Nevada and the celebration was underway. 

“Man, we played well tonight. Credit Bradley. They fought hard, but we made the plays we needed to make,” Bell said after the win. After the game Brycten Harris described what it took to win: “We knew it was going to be a dog fight. We rebounded and made big shots.” Brycten scored 8 of his 17 points in the final quarter of the game. Kavion Coleman led the Blue Jays with 18 points on Saturday night, as he continues to be a problem for opponents. Keyonte Wingfield played great and finished with 10 points. Kobe Hughey scored 9 points off the bench for the Jays and played a vital role in the win. Brogan Rhodes played a heck of a game, drawing multiple charges and knocking down two big three-pointers. Rhodes finished with 8 points. “Brogan has stepped up all season when we’ve needed it. He was huge for us tonight,” Bell said after the game. Cardi Adair added 4 points. He was in foul trouble most of the game but made some big plays down the stretch and came down with some key rebounds late. 


With the win, the Blue Jays earned the one seed in the State Tournament and will play Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. against Elaine-Marvel. “We got one more business trip to make, one more trophy to bring home,” Kavion Coleman said after the game. This group of Blue Jays isn't settling for regional champs. They have one thing on their mind, and that’s a state title.