INA, Ill. — The Vincennes University men's basketball team had defeated John A. Logan seven consecutive times going into the Region 24 championship game Friday.
But the Volunteers played in the final like they'd had enough. With Louisville commit Jayden Scrubb dominating with 36 points, John A. Logan denied the Trailblazers, 78-67.
Ninth-ranked VU (28-5) never led against the eighth-ranked Volunteers (28-5) but was within one with 12 minutes to go before Scrubb and 7-2 Jarmarion Sharpe took over the game. Sharpe was Logan's other double-figure scorer with 12.
Kevin Osawe scored 20, Craig Porter 16 and reserve Kevin Kone 15 for the Blazers.
Logan won its first region tournament since 2015 and receives the automatic berth into the NJCAA Finals at Hutchinson, Kan. The defending national champion Trailblazers are in good position to receive one of the eight at-large berths. The 24 selections for the tournament are announced on Monday.
"I thought at halftime we were going to win the basketball game, but we didn't come out with a punch in the second half," VU coach Todd Franklin said. "The game was kind of waiting for someone to do it, but ultimately it was them.
"Logan's a talented team. It's a great testament to our team that we beat them the first two times this season."
After a halftime tie, the teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes of the second half, but the Volunteers used a nine-point run to take control. Scrubb had seven in the spurt, climaxed by a three-point play off a steal to push their lead to 59-49 with 9:44 showing.
The Blazers were bothered throughout by Logan's size and went nearly seven minutes without a basket. Kone's fastbreak bucket with 5:09 broke that spell, cutting the Vols lead to 63-55.
But VU never mounted a charge and didn't put two baskets together until the final minute of the game.
"Their length caused a lot of problems trying to score. But we were running actions where our shooters got the ball and weren't ready to shoot," Franklin said. "We weren't true to who we are offensively or on the glass. That was the death knell. They had all kind of second chances, and I was disappointed in that. There were a half-dozen possessions where we just didn't box out. Don't get me wrong, they're hard to box out, but we didn't put a good effort on that."
It was tied at halftime, 38-38, but VU clearly had momentum.
Trailing by as much as 14, the Blazers held Logan to 12 points over the final 10 minutes to get back into the game. On VU's last three possessions, Randy Tucker and Chuka Mekkam drained 3-pointers, and Porter, who had 13 by halftime, converted on a drive with eight seconds to go to conclude an 8-2 end to the stanza.
The Volunteers erupted at the start behind Scrubb, sending a capacity crowd of almost all Logan fans into a frenzy.
The highly-regarded forward scored 11 in the first five minutes of the game. Then Boone, Trace Young and Jordan Cousin drilled 3-pointers in a 13-1 blast to give the Volunteers their biggest lead, 26-12, in less than 10 minutes.
Wabash Valley, ranked 13th, rolled in the Region 24 women's final, blasting Rend Lake, 109-67, in Friday's opener. The Warriors receive the automatic bid for the NJCAA Finals in Lubbock, Texas, for the fourth consecutive year.
JOHN A. LOGAN 78,
Osawe (f) 11 2-3 20, Okanu (c) 2 0-1 4, Mekkam (g) 1 0-0 3, Porter (g) 6 3-4 16, Sandage (g) 2 1-1 6, Tucker 1 0-0 3, Wells 0 0-0 0, Kone 5 5-9 15. Totals: 28 11-18 67.
JOHN A. LOGAN
Scrubb (f) 16 2-3 36, Young (f) 3 1-2 8, Sharpe (c) 6 0-0 12, Boone (g) 4 0-0 9, Johnson (g) 0 0-0 0, Cousin 1 0-0 3, Lancaster 1 0-0 4, Saddoris 0 0-0 0, Ervin 0 0-0 0, Curry 2 0-1 4. Totals: 32 7-11 78
SCORE BY HALVES
Vincennes |38-29 — 67
John A. Logan |38-40 — 78
3-pointers: VU 6 (Osawe 2, Tucker, Mekkam, Porter, Sandage), Logan 5 (Scrubb 2, Young, Cousin, Boone). Fouls: VU 14, Logan 19.