DANVILLE — There wasn’t a ton of shock on the part of Central Community College coach Marty Levinson when his team started bickering in the first half of its NJCAA men’s national tournament opener against John Wood Community College.
After all, he said they are like brothers. And at times, that’s what brothers do. Four of the starting five are from Omaha, Nebraska and virtually grew up together. So Levinson also wasn’t surprised when they were able to hash things out and get back on track.
Thankfully they did, and the Raiders came together just in time to avoid a disastrous first half. They once again bonded in the second and pulled out an 89-82 win over John Wood.
The Raiders found themselves down 34-25 with four minutes, 30 seconds to play in the first half, but went into halftime with a 38-36 lead after going on a 13-4 run in the final 2:48 of the half.
“It was a pretty big run because at first I felt like my teammates were turning on each other,” Omaha native and Central Community College sophomore Tyron Criswell said. “We started arguing. For a possession or two, we were just bickering at each other. So that run really helped us get back together.”
Criswell scored a game high 36 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. But it was Deandre Hollins-Johnson who hit a three to spark the game-saving run. Any miscommunication was fixed, and Levinson’s halftime speech was altered.
“We’ve got some hard heads,” Levinson said. “What makes you great can be your ultimate downfall as well. We’ve got some sophomores that are really good, and then we’ve got some freshmen that won three state titles. Egos get in the way sometimes. Everyone wants to hit home runs, and in basketball, there’s no home runs.