1988 National Championship Recap National Championship Recap. Blue Dragon NJCAA All-Tourney Teams. NJCAA Tournament Scores

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1988 National Championship Recap 1994 National Championship Recap Blue Dragon NJCAA All-Tourney Teams NJCAA Tournament Scores

Every March, the city of Hutchinson gets an acute case of March Madness. That’s because the NJCAA Men’s National Division I basketball tournament has been contested in Hutchinson every year since 1949. So you can just imagine what the Sports Arena is like when the Blue Dragons are playing in the tournament – it’s a madhouse. The first NJCAA Tournament was played in March 1948 in Springfield, Mo. After a financial disaster in Springfield, the tournament was moved to Hutchinson and Convention Hall (now known as Memorial Hall), and one of the most unique traditions in all of sports was born. In 1952, the City of Hutchinson built the Sports Arena, which has been home to the tournament since then. The Arena had a capacity of more than 4,800 at first, more than double Convention Hall. Now with a capacity of 7,000, the Sports Arena is a raucous venue when the Blue Dragons are playing in the NJCAA Tournament. The Blue Dragons have played in the NJCAA Tournament 16 times, fourth most in tournament history. Officially, the NJCAA national records have Hutchinson listed with 18 tournament berths. The Dragons twice lost in what was called Bi-District games to the Oklahoma-Arkansas champion after winning the Region 6 championship. Those Bi-District games are acknowledged by the NJCAA as tournament berths. Regardless of what number fans use as the “official” number of appearances, the Blue Dragons have a long and successful history in the NJCAA Tournament After several years of coming close, the Blue Dragons finally won their first men’s basketball national championship in 1988. Six years later, Hutch was again crowned champion of junior college basketball. The Dragons are tied with seven other teams for third place on the all-time list of champions with two. Hutch has played in four championship games – 1949, 1973, 1988 and 1994 – which is tied with three other teams for fourth on the all-time list. Officially, the 1973 national runner-up finish isn’t recognized because of the use of an ineligible player.

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Here are some more staggering numbers about HCC in the NJCAA Tournament: + Hutch is 40-21 all-time in NJCAA Tournament games played in Hutchinson. + The 40 victories are fourth most in history. + The 61 games played are fourth most in history. + Hutch and San Jacinto, Texas, are tied for second with nine Final Four appearances. + The Dragons have placed in the top eight 13 times, which is fourth most in history.

Thanks for the invitation Hutchinson’s first tournament appearances in 1949 and 1957 were by invitation because teams traveling from each coast didn’t have the money to make the trip to Hutchinson. The Blue Dragons made the most of each appearance. In 1949, Hutch entered the tournament with a less-than-impressive 10-9 record. But what transpired over the next five days was truly the beginning of Blue Dragon basketball as their longtime and dedicated fans know it. The 1949 Dragons, coached by Charles Sesher, reeled off three straight wins over Sayer, Okla., rival Dodge City and Grant Technical School, Calif. The Dragons moved on to the finals after a 55-53 victory over Grant when Rich Mercer hit a shot late after missing two free throws. Hutch’s Cinderella story came to an end in the title game, losing to powerful Tyler, Texas, 66-64. After trailing by six points with three minutes left, Hal Davis scored with 10 seconds left to pull within 66-64, but time ran out on the Dragons. Coach Sesher announced his retirement during the 1957 season and even though the Dragons didn’t win Region 6, they got one last chance to send their coach out on a high note. When New York City Community College bowed out because of a lack of finances and an ineligible player, Hutchinson was offered an invite to fill out the field. After a tough 52-51 loss to Eastern Arizona in the first round, the Dragons reeled off three straight victories over Miami, Okla., Joliet, Ill., and Arkansas City Junior College to finish fifth.

The start of the glory years Sam Butterfield was chosen to take over the Blue Dragons program before the 1957-58 season began. Butterfield wasted no time getting the Blue Dragons back to the NJCAA Tournament. In his first season at Hutch, the Dragons qualified in 1958. After two blowout victories against Mesa, Colo., and Snead-Boaz, Ala., the Dragons met up with Kilgore, Texas. Hutch fought back from nine points down late in the second half to tie the game, but wound up losing 83-78. Hutch finished third in 1958 with a 97-88 victory over Cameron, Okla. Butterfield’s teams went to four national tournaments in his nine-year HCC tenure, finishing sixth in 1960 and fifth in 1961.

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Like Sesher, the Dragons found their way to the NJCAA Tournament in Butterfield’s final year as coach. Winning the 1966 Region 6 championship and once again two decisive wins in the first two rounds of the tournament, the Dragons were back in the Final Four. Cameron, Okla., ended Butterfield’s final run at an elusive national championship with a 91-86 semifinal win. HCC finished third with a double-overtime 74-73 victory over Dallas Baptist.

The tradition continues HCC’s next three coaches all got the Blue Dragons to the NJCAA Tournament at least once, but Gene Keady leads all Hutchinson coaches with five tournament berths in his eight years. Keady’s first four tournament teams finished 12th (1968), 12th (1969), sixth (1971) and eighth (1972). Keady’s 1973 team may have been the Blue Dragons’ best team to date. The Dragons came into the 1973 tournament with a 26-3 record and a spectacular player named Rudy Jackson. The Dragons were on fire offensively in the first three games of 1973, scoring 107 points against Southeastern Iowa, 99 points against North Greenville, N.C., and 83 against Olney Central, Ill., in the semifinals. The Dragons wound up losing 80-61 to Mercer County, N.J., in what was the first of two straight national championships for that school. But the story wasn’t over for HCC. Because of a false transcript received at Wichita State, the school Rudy Jackson transferred to, the Dragons were forced to vacate their runner-up trophy, even though HCC officials were unknowing of anything wrong. The transcript they received on Jackson was forged and it was later discovered that Jackson was never listed as a graduate from John Bowne High School in New York. A recruiter who brought Jackson to Wichita State’s attention, admitted to the wrongdoing. After Keady moved on, both Dick Gisel and Gary Bargen had their turns bringing Hutch home to the national tournament. In 1975, Gisel did just that, finishing eighth. Bargen did the same thing in the final year of his seven-year run, finishing third.

No. 1 Finally When Dave Farrar came to Hutchinson, the Blue Dragons were 0-12 in NJCAA Tournaments. That all changed with one extraordinary week in March of 1988. After defeating Jayhawk East rival Independence by 30 points at Independence to win the Region 6 championship, the Blue Dragons had put together a school-record 33 wins entering the NJCAA Tournament. After early scares from Chipola, Fla., and Shelby State, Tenn., the Dragons easily defeated Mattatuck, Conn., 86-63 in the semifinals to earn a third berth in the NJCAA championship game. The Dragons overcame a 12-point first-half deficit to defeat Kankakee, Ill., 76-74. Future United States Olympian Steve Fritz scored a three-point play with 22 seconds left to give the Dragons the lead, but Hutch’s fans had to wait out a five-minute discussion about where a technical foul would be called on the Dragons because the fans littered the floor with debris after Kankakee’s final shot went over the backboard, but time hadn’t ran out.

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No technical was administered and the Dragons finally celebrated their first national championship in the tournament’s 41st year of existence. Maurice Brittian was named the ’88 Most Valuable Player. Steve McClain was an assistant on that 1988 national championship team. When Farrar took the Middle Tennessee State job after the 1991 season, McClain was promoted to the top spot. Three years later, McClain added his name to the list of Blue Dragon legends. With a one-two punch not truly seen at Hutchinson since the days of Richard Morsden and Stan Blackmon in 1971 and 1972, McClain had Roy Hairston (Purdue) and Ben Davis (Arizona) to overpower teams. The Dragons defeated Bossier Parish, La., and Chattahoochee Valley, Ala., in the first two rounds, then had to defeat Connors State, Okla., 80-79 in a semifinal war. Lucas Wagler hit two free throws with 14.7 seconds left to give the Dragons the win. Then in the 1994 championship game against Three Rivers, Mo., and Raider coaching legend Gene Bess, the Davis-Hairston combination clicked for 38 points and Davis hit two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to clinch the win. Hairston was named the ’94 tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Trip No. 16 The Blue Dragons have qualified for the NJCAA Tournament only once since 1994, but it may have been the least likely team to ever make it to Hutch. Already with nine losses, Randy Stange’s final HCC team played rival high-powered Butler County – led by All-American Lee Nailon – in the Region 6 championship game. In what was one of Stange’s best coaching games ever, the Dragons upset the Grizzlies 66-56 at Wichita State’s Levitt Arena to earn the program’s 16th NJCAA Tournament appearance. Hutch lost a hard-fought first-round game to San Jacinto, a team equal to Hutch in tournament prestige. An overtime victory over Wabash Valley, Ill., and a loss to Bossier Parish, La., rounded out the 1997 tournament run for the Dragons.

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Steve Fritz (3) scores for the Blue Dragons in their 1988 first-round NJCAA tournament game against Chipola, Florida. Looking on is HCC's William Davis (44). The Hutchinson Blue Dragons finally found the pot of gold on Saturday, March 20, 1988. After years and years of coming up short when it came to the NJCAA Tournament, the Blue Dragons ended all of that talk. Steve Fritz, a future United States Olympian, converted a three-point play with 22 seconds remaining to give Hutchinson a 76-74 victory over Kankakee, Ill., in the 1988 national championship game at the Sports Arena for the Blue Dragons first-ever national championship in men’s basketball. Hutchinson, making its third appearance in the NJCAA Tournament championship game, put the finishing touches on its most successful season in the 57-year history of the program. The Dragons won a school-record 37 games, while losing just two. Now the Dragons can add a national championship to its long and storied history. “We are a very fortunate basketball team,” said HCC head coach David Farrar, who led the Dragons to a national championship in just his second season at Hutch. “Kankakee had the hardest playing team I’ve seen in the two years I’ve been here.” Kankakee used its superior quickness to force Hutchinson into 14 turnovers and 43-percent shooting from the field in the first half. The Cavaliers led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but the play of Reggie Morton helped the Dragons pull within five, 39-34, at halftime. “We were very fortunate to be within five at halftime,” Farrar said. “We couldn’t do much technique-wise. We just had to get more physical. It was pretty important for us to get off to a good start in the second half.” The Dragons did just that. Maurice Brittian slammed a dunk home with 16 minutes, 55 seconds left to five HCC its first lead. The Dragons led by as many as five before Kankakee rallied back to take the lead. Neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way. Kankakee was on the verge of ending Hutchinson’s hopes of a first national title when the Cavaliers had the ball and a three-point lead with 2:30 left in the game. Fritz came up with the two biggest plays in the tournament for Hutchinson. Kankakee took a 71-68 lead on a basket by Andy Kpedi. The Dragons missed on their next possession and the Cavaliers pulled down the rebound. Fritz stole the ball and converted a layup to pull Hutch within one at 71-70 with 1:50 left.

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Kpedi was fouled and hit one free throw to put Kankakee up 72-70. Reggie Morton, who had his best game of the tournament for Hutch, hit a 3-point field goal with 1:10 left to five HCC a 73-72 lead. Kankakee came right back and took a 74-73 lead with 55 seconds to go on Maurice Lamar basket. What happened next put Fritz’s name firmly entrenched into Blue Dragon lore. Fritz found a seam in Kankakee’s zone defense and drove to the hoop. He hit a bank shot from the left side and was fouled with 22 seconds to go. Fritz, an 80-plus percent free throw shooter, calmly sank the free throw to give HCC a 76-74 lead. “I wasn’t even thinking about it at the time,” Fritz said. “I hadn’t played well until that time. I just tried to relax as much as possible.” Kankakee still had 22 seconds left. After taking a pair of timeouts with eight seconds left, the Cavs decided to go for the win. Andre Tate’s 3-point attempt hit the back of the rim and bounced over the backboard and out of bounds with 1 second remaining. The Hutchinson crowd erupted and littered the floor with toilet paper after Kankakee called a timeout. While the fans celebrated, the officials discussed whether to call a technical foul on the Dragons because the crowd threw debris on the floor before the game’s completion. There was a five-minute discussion before it was determined that it was a neutral floor and no technical was assessed. The national championship was finally owned by the Blue Dragons. “This really means a lot,” Fritz said. “It’s hard to imagine that from over 500 schools, we are the best.” The Dragons did not shoot well in the first half, but missed only six shots in the second half. William Davis capped off a brilliant tournament and HCC career with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Morton led the Dragons with 20 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Brittian finished with 13 points. The Dragons broke two school records. One was for the most wins in one season at 37 and the other was points scored in the season at 3,240. “It’s been a long year,” Farrar said. “What this means is that nine kids invested time and energy toward a goal. They reached all four of their goals. They sacrificed themselves to play as a unit. They proved to be the most consistent team in basketball.” The Dragons also reaped the top individual tournament awards. Brittian was named the 1988 tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Brittian averaged 13 points per game during the tournament, but was intimidating on defense as well. Brittian, Davis and Fritz were all named to the All-Tournament team. Davis averaged 17.5 points and 8 rebounds per game, both HCC highs for the tournament. Fritz averaged 11.7 points per game. Farrar was named the Coach of the Tournament. After defeating Independence in the Region 6 championship game, the Dragons played Chipola, Fla., in the first round of the 1988 NJCAA Tournament. Despite some tense moments down the stretch, the Blue Dragons held on for a 70-64 victory. The Dragons built a 58-40 lead with 6:50 left in the game, but the Dragons grew tentative on offense in the final minutes and Chipola climbed back into the ballgame.

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Behind the play of Karl Brown and Gary Brown, Chipola drew within five, 65-60 with 57 seconds left. HCC freshman Cody Walters hit one of two free throws and was fouled again, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Fritz grabbed the rebound and scored with 26 seconds left. Davis led a balanced HCC attack with 15 points. Fritz and Kevin Howard added 12 each. The Dragons shot 56 percent from the field. HCC earned a spot in the national semifinals with a hard-fought 97-90 victory over Shelby State, Tenn., in a second-round matchup. The Dragons led 50-32 at halftime, shooting 69 percent from the field and 14 of 17 from the foul line. After shooting only 38 percent in the first half, Shelby State started heating up in the final 20 minutes. But Hutch maintained its lead hitting 20 of 27 free throws in the second half. Davis has 17 points, while Brittian and Fritz had 16 each. Shaun Vandiver came off the bench to score 14 and Howard had 10. HCC shot 63 percent for the game. The Dragons defeated Mattatuck, Conn., 86-63 in Friday night’s semifinals to earn a berth in the national title game for the third time. The others were in 1949 and 1973. Hutchinson shot 64 percent from the field and defensively controlled Mattatuck’s 6-foot-10 Brent Dabbs. Hutch took control early with leads of 8-0, 26-14 and 41-25 in the first half. Mattatuck stayed within 11 points for the first five minutes of the second half, but Hutch went on an 8-2 run over the next three minutes to go up 62-45 with 12:15 left. Davis scored 21 points to lead Hutchinson against Mattatuck. Brittian and Vandiver had 14 points each.

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Hutchinson Blue Dragon sophomore Ben Davis had a huge doubledouble with 32 points and 17 rebounds in the Dragon's 81-67 victory over Chattahoochee Valley, Ala., in the second round of the 1994 NJCAA Tournament. After six long years, the NJCAA national championship trophy returned to Hutchinson. Hutchinson Community College took the lead for good late in the first half and held off a frantic Three Rivers, Mo., comeback for a 78-74 victory in the 1994 NJCAA Tournament championship game at the Sports Arena. Ben Davis had 20 points, including two decisive free throws with 4.1 seconds left, to lead the Blue Dragons, who finished the season with a 35-4 record, the second-most wins in school history. Tournament Most Valuable Player Roy “Pooh” Hairston added 18 points, while John Sweet had 13 and Craig Duerksen had 12 points for HCC. For Three Rivers, coached by legendary junior college coach Gene Bess, Willie Walker had 17 points. Sunday Adebayo had 12 and Lonzell Gowdy had 11 for the Raiders, who finished 33-5. “It’s a relief it’s over,” said Hutchinson head coach Steve McClain, who was an assistant coach for the Blue Dragons’ 1988 national championship team coached by David Farrar. “This one feels a lot better right now. “I’m awfully proud of these kids. This is a great accomplishment. They beat a good ball club. They had a lot to prove to people who doubted them, but they never stopped believing in the system, the coaches and each other.” The Dragons led by 11 points, 60-49, when Hairston hit a 3-pointer – HCC’s only one of the game – with 10 minutes, 8 seconds left in the game. But Three Rivers battled back and had a chance to tie the game with 7.9 seconds left when Lucas Wagler fouled out, sending Adebayo to the line. Adebayo missed both free throws and the ball went out of bounds off Gowdy. Hutch got the ball to Davis, who was fouled with 4.1 seconds left and the Dragons leading 76-74. Davis, who moved on to the University of Arizona after his days at Hutchinson, made both foul shots. “I knew I was going to make it,” Davis said. “I smiled when I went up there because I knew I was going to make both of them. I think Coach (McClain) knew I was going to make them, too.” Davis had missed the second of two three throws with 1:07 left after putting HCC up 74-72, but Three Rivers turned the ball over. Hairston hit a pair of foul shots with 47.4 seconds on the clock, giving the Dragons a four-point cushion.

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After Anthony Rodebush converted a 15-foot jumper for Three Rivers, Wagler missed inside for Hutch. Wagler then fouled Adebayo with 7.9 seconds to go, setting up the Three Rivers’ All-American’s two misses from the line. Hutchinson, which led 33-32 at halftime, took command with a 10-2 run late in the period. Hairston’s free throws with 4:52 left put HCC in front, 27-26, and sparked the Dragons’ spurt. It was the fourth lead change of the half, which also had three ties. Hairston gave Hutch a three-point advantage with a pull-up 8-foot bank shot at the 4:30 mark of the first half, and after James Jones answered for Three Rivers, the Dragons scored five straight points to lead by eight. Sweet hit from 12 feet in the lane and converted a three-point play on a fast-break pass from Courtney Morgan. Hairston then put the Dragons ahead 36-28 with 2:30 to go. Hutch had an early 13-7 lead, when Duerksen followed a Sweet miss with 13:26 left in the half. But Three Rivers came back to take its first lead at 17-16 on Walker’s 3-point bank shot from the right wing with 10:30 remaining. Once Hutchinson’s second national championship was locked up, a wild celebration ensued. Once that calmed down, the celebrating wasn’t over as the Dragons started pulling in post-tournament honors. Hairston was named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He finished second in tournament scoring with 72 points. Hairston and Davis, who was ninth in scoring with 66 points, were named to the 12-member all-tournament team. McClain was named the Coach of the Tournament and Wagler earned the Sesher Sportsmanship Award. Hutch’s journey to the 1994 national championship game was entertaining to say the least. After a thrilling Region 6 championship game victory over rival Butler County a week prior to the NJCAA Tournament, the Blue Dragons opened the ’94 tournament with Bossier Parish, La. Playing in their first NJCAA Tournament game since winning the 1988 crown, HCC forced five Bossier turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half and cruised to a 99-83 victory. Hairston scored 31 points, including a pair of 3-pointers during a decisive 14-4 run, to lead the Dragons. Hairston added nine rebounds and five assists. Davis and Duersken had 16 points each. The next day, Davis turned in an overpowering 32-point, 17-rebound performance in Hutch’s 81-67 second-round victory over Chatahoochee Valley, Ala. The Dragons, who led by only three points at halftime, opened the second half with runs of 9-2 and 12-0 to stretch their advantage to 65-44 with 10:35 remaining. Hairston added 21 points and Sweet had 18, which limited Chatahoochee Valley to 38-percent shooting. With the Sports Arena packed for the Friday night semifinals, the capacity partisan Blue Dragon crowd was getting nervous because HCC trailed for most of its Final Four battle with Connors State, Okla. But the Dragons led when it matters the most and came away with an 80-79 victory to move into its fourth NJCAA Tournament championship game. Wagler hit a free throw with 14.7 seconds left to give the Dragons their slim, but decisive margin. He was the third Hutch hero in as many games, scoring a career-high 24 points to go with 10 rebounds and four assists. Connors State had built a 14-point first-half lead before the Dragons rallied to trail just 42-40 at halftime.

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1949 – Leroy Esau 1957 – Charles Reynolds 1959 – Dick Gisel 1960 – Bill French 1961 – John Channell 1966 – Mike Jones 1968 – Russell Clarke 1970 – Stan Blackmon 1971 – Stan Blackmon 1972 – Richard Morsden 1973 – Rudy Jackson; Teko Wynder 1974 – Charles Terry 1975 – Randy Boyts 1986 – Tyrone Jones; Derrick Vick 1988 – William Davis; Steve Fritz; Maurice Brittian (MVP) 1994 – Roy “Pooh” Hairston (MVP); Ben Davis; Lucas Wagler 1997 – Ryan Moss

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1949 (Runner-Up) Sayer, Oklahoma .......................... W, 68-50 Dodge City, Kansas ...................... W, 55-48 Grant Tech, California ................... W, 55-53

1971 (Sixth place) Bacone, Oklahoma......................W, 106-94 Three Rivers, Missouri ..................W, 99-82 Ellsworth, Iowa ............................ L, 66-67 Robert Morris, Illinois ................... L, 74-93

Tyler, Texas .................................. L, 64-66

1957 (Fifth place) Eastern Arizona ............................. L, 52-51 Miami, Oklahoma ......................... W, 60-57 Joliet, Illinois ................................. W, 78-64

1972 (Eighth place) Ferrum, Virginia .............................L, 72-82 Ulster, New York ....................... W, 97-88 Southeastern Iowa ....................... W, 93-91 Yuma, Arizona .............................. L, 94-99

Arkansas City ............................... W, 55-53

1958 (Third place)

1973 (Runner-Up) Southeastern Iowa..................... W, 107-88

Mesa, Colorado ........................... W, 91-62 Snead-Boaz, Alabama .................. W, 92-58

N. Greenville, North Carolina ..... W, 99-90 Olney Central, Illinois .................. W, 83-75 Mercer County, New Jersey ...... L, 61-80*

Kilgore, Texas .............................. L, 78-83 *- Vacated trophy b/c of ineligible player Cameron, Oklahoma .................... W, 97-88

1960 (Sixth place) Pueblo, Colorado ......................... W, 85-78 Lindsay-Wilson, Kentucky ............ W, 91-75 Tyler, Texas .................................. L, 80-82

1975 (Eighth place) Vincennes University .................... L, 78-87 Essex County, New Jersey ......... W, 99-75 Lake Land, Illinois ...................... W, 89-86 Grandview, Iowa ......................... L, 89-91

Cameron, Oklahoma ..................... L, 85-97

1961 (Fifth place) Tyler, Texas .................................. L, 75-81

1986 (Third place) Westark ......................................W, 65-56 Ellsworth, Iowa .......................... W, 75-72 San Jacinto, Texas ....................... L, 81-82

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Joliet, Illinois ................................. W, 88-67 Burlington, Iowa ........................... W, 67-56

Col. of Southern Idaho ............... W, 80-79

Weber College, Utah .................... W, 90-73 1966 (Third place) Dover, Delaware ....................... W, 102-78 Cumberland, Texas ..................... W, 60-46 Cameron, Oklahoma ................... L, 86-91

1988 (National Champions) Chipola, Florida ...........................W, 70-64 Shelby State, Tennessee ............. W, 97-90 Mattatuck, Connecticut ............... W, 86-63 Kankakee, Illinois ....................... W, 76-74

Dallas Baptist ................... W, 74-73, 2 OT

1968 (Twelfth place) Bismarck, North Dakota ........... W, 103-72 Vincennes University .................... L, 82-89 Northeastern JC .......................... L, 88-97 1969 (Twelfth place) Miles City, Montana .................W, 120-103 Paducah, Kentucky ....................... L, 85-86 Murray State, Oklahoma ............... L, 86-88

1994 (National Champions) Bossier Parish, Louisiana .............W, 99-83 Chattahoochee Val., Alabama ..... W, 81-67 Connors State, Oklahoma ........... W, 90-79 Three Rivers, Missouri ................ W, 78-74 1997 (Tournament qualifier) San Jacinto, Texas ....................... L, 53-60 Wabash Valley, Illinois ........ W, 83-62, OT Bossier Parish, Louisiana .............. L, 77-87

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