HAGERSTOWN — Less than three seconds after watching his team loss the lead, Yannick Zanfack calmly sank two free throws with two seconds remaining to give sixth-seeded Garrett a 74-73 win over seventh-seeded Southern Maryland Sunday in the NJCAA Region XX-B Championship.
The Lakers (19-10) now have two weeks off before advancing to the NJCAA Division II National Championship Tournament, set for March 18-22 in Danville, Ill.
Frank Holloway’s 20-point performance secured the tournament’s most valuable player award and DeAndre Davis earned an all-tournament selection by scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Zanfack’s free throws looked completely unnecessary during the first half as the Lakers couldn’t be slowed.
“We were shooting well and dominating pretty much in every aspect,” said Garrett coach Dennis Gibson regarding his team’s 39-29 lead at halftime.
“Then we came out of the locker room with no energy to start the second half, and I didn’t do the rotating I should have after playing a tough game on Saturday. They put the pressure on us with their guards, who were extremely quick and aggressive, and we didn’t handle it well at all and allowed them back in the game.”
Southern Maryland used 22 Garrett turnovers to fight their way back, and took a 73-72 lead when Juwan Cole made two free throws with five seconds left.
Using a set play they had been working on in practice, D.J. Ritchie inbounded the ball to Corey Groom at mid-court and Groom hit Zanfack breaking to the basket where the Hawks were forced to foul instead of allowing a layup.
Zanfack went to the line and hit his first attempt before Southern Maryland called a timeout. After the break, Zanfack cooly hit the go-ahead free throw to make it 74-73.
The Hawks almost collected on a prayer with a last-second heave, but the shot bounced off the front of the rim.
Zanfack and Ritchie finished the day with nine points, with Groom and Van Jones each adding eight.
Cole scored 16 to lead Southern Maryland.
“This is a great group of kids and to get to be playing at this time of year is a great reward for them,” said Gibson.
This will be the Garrett’s third trip to the National Tournament and their second at Division II after going in 1994. The Lakers also made the Division I tournament in 2004.