Kirkwood Men And Women Advance In Postseason
By Douglas Miles and Scott Saville, Reporters
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Kirkwood’s Shawn Manego had just given his team a 81-79 overtime lead when he caught the ball behind the three-point line in front of his team’s bench.
“I said, ‘Knock that down,’” said Kirkwood head coach Doug Wagemester. Manego did, and his five overtime points allowed the second-seed Eagles to hold off North Iowa Area Community College, 89-83, in the opening round of the NJCAA men’s basketball regional Wednesday night at Johnson Hall.
“Couldn’t happen to a better kid,” Wagemester said of Manego, who had a single point entering the extra session. “All he wants is what’s best for the team and at that moment it was for him to step up and make a three, and he did it.”
J.C. Fuller led the Eagles with 21 points, while post Kevin Hunter added 20. Kirkwood (19-12) will host a regional semifinal Friday at 7.
“Our kids came out ready to go,” Wagemester said. “There were some things that really showed that we were here to fight and we made enough plays down the stretch and found a way to beat them so I’m super-proud of them.”
Kirkwood seemingly had the game in hand on two separate occasions, boasting double-digit leads in both halves. However, NIACC continually clawed back on the strength of 13 three-pointers, using a 12-0 run to grab their first lead of the game at 47-46 with 12:35 remaining after back-to-back threes from Aussie sharpshooter David Humphries, who led all scorers with 24 points.
With the score tied at 58-58, the Eagles scored the next eight points before NIACC mounted another rally, tying the game at 75-75 with a desperation three-pointer off the glass by Sam Skogen with less than a second left.
After a 4-4 start to the extra period, Manego scored his first made basket of the game with a driving lay-up off the glass. His clutch three immediately followed.
“This team’s been punched in the gut so many times, and we’re still here,” Wagemester said.
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