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Ronnie White scored with 35 seconds to play and Qua Doster added two free throws with 11 seconds remaining as Paris Junior College defeated No. 28 San Jacinto College 61-58 Monday night at the Hunt Center.
With the win, the Dragons improved to 19-6 overall and 12-3 in Region 14 play, one game behind North Zone leader Trinity Valley (23-3, 13-2), ranked 10th nationally, whom PJC hosts on Saturday in a battle for the No. 1 overall seed in the March 4-8 regional tournament.
The victory over San Jac was PJC’s second straight over a ranked opponent, following a 53-49 win over fifth-ranked Kilgore on Saturday.
San Jacinto (21-5, 12-3), which leads Lamar State-Port Arthur by one game in the South Zone, had won its last 11 games.
A number of scouts for NCAA Division teams were on hand for the game between two of the nation’s best junior college teams.
Delvin Dickerson, Trevon Seymore, Joe Haynes and White scored 10 points each for Paris. Doster added 8.
Michael Hunter scored a game-high 15 points for the Ravens, including back-to-back 3-pointers that gave San Jacinto its first lead with a little over four minutes to play.
Carrington Ward added 13 points on two field goals and 9-of-10 free throws, and Anthony Livingston added 12 points on three field goals and 5-of-5 free throws.
Nouhoum Bocoum, the Dragons 6-9 starting center, scored just 17 seconds into the game and added another basket inside for a 4-0 Paris lead in the game’s first 2:05, and the Dragons led 20-6 after 8-1/2 minutes on eight field goals to only two for the visitors.
Dickerson made seven straight points for Paris to build a 27-13 lead. White hit a basket, Xavier Dupree a 3-pointer, and Seymore two goals for another 14-point lead at 36-22.
But with 2:28 to go in the first half, San Jacinto went on a 6-0 run to pull to within 38-30 at intermission.
Haynes opened the second half with two field goals to widen the PJC lead to 42-31, but Ravens went on a couple of other runs — 6-0 and 11-2 — to complete their come-from-behind rally.
San Jacinto had only two 3-pointers until Hunter got wide open twice in a row to give his team its first lead, 56-55, with 4:11 to play.
The Ravens would not make another field goal, and made only two of five free throws the rest of the way.
Three times, San Jacinto drove the basket in the last 2-1/2 minutes, only to be repelled.
They got three opportunities at the free throw line, but Ward went 1-for-2, Jevonlean Hedgeman missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Hunter went 1-for-2, and the Ravens led 58-57 with 1:08 left in the game.
Paris went nearly all of the second half “passive against the zone,” Dragons head coach Chuck Taylor said after the game.
“When you get passive against the zone, it turns you into a perimeter team, shooting 3-pointers. We’ve got to get better at that,” Taylor said. “Anytime you work the ball inside to your post guys, something good happens — 90 percent of the time.”
But in the closing minute, the Dragons were up to the challenge.
With 35 seconds to go, trailing 58-57, the ball went inside to the 6-9 White, who scored to put Paris ahead 59-58.
“Then we got a big-time stop,” the Paris coach said.
Livingston drove into a crowd of defenders inside the lane at 0:17, failing to get a foul, and his shot bounced off the rim and went out of bounds.
Taylor took out White — not needed on defense at the moment — and replaced him with Doster, one of the team’s best free throw shooters.
With a one-point lead and the shot clock off, San Jacinto was forced to foul. Paris got the ball into Doster’s hands, and Hedgeman fouled him at 0:11.
Doster’s two free throws found nothing but net, increasing Paris’ lead to 61-58.
That was the final score. Livingston’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer bounced away and Paris had the win.
Paris had 15 field goals in the first half — including 3-pointers by Doster, Brandon Scott and Dupree — to only seven field goals by San Jacinto.
But the Ravens average almost 90 points a game by driving into their opponents’ throats and forcing fouls, then knocking down free throws.
Paris drew its 10th foul with 7:21 to play in the first half, which gave San Jac two free throws on every foul after that until halftime, setting up an 8-of-9 finish for an overall 15-of-18 first-half free throws, compared to 5-of-6 free throws for Paris.
The second half, San Jacinto made 9-of-15 free throws to 4-of-8 for Paris.
Paris is at Tyler (12-11, 5-10) on Wednesday, while Bossier (6-18, 4-10) is at Kilgore (21-4, 12-4) and Panola (11-16, 4-12) is at Trinity Valley (23-3, 13-2).
SAN JAC 30 28–58
PARIS 38 23–61
SAN JACINTO (21-5, 12-3) — Carrington Ward 2 9-10 13, Michael Carey 2 0-0 5, Gary Akbar 2 3-5 7, Michael Hunter 4 5-8 15, Richard Benedyth 0 0-0 0, Anthony Livingston 3 5-5 12, Jevonlean Hedgeman 2 1-3 5, Justin Hollins 0 0-0 0, Egi Gjikondi 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 24-33 58. Three-Pointers: 4 (Hunter 2, Carey 1, Livingston 1). Fouls: 15. Fouled Out: None.
PARIS (19-6, 12-3) — Jovan Austin 1 0-0 2, Delvin Dickerson 3 4-5 10, Trevon Seymore 5 0-0 10, Brandon Scott 1 0-0 3, Keith Shivers 0 0-1 0, Xavier Dupree 1 0-0 3, Joe Haynes 4 2-4 8, Qua Doster 2 2-2 8, Ronnie White 5 0-0 10, Henoc Bienne 0 0-0 0, Noucoum Bocoum 2 1-2 5, Andre Barnes 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 9-14 61. Three-Pointers: 4 (Doster 2, Scott 1, Dupree 1). Fouls: 25. Fouled Out: None.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra