DANVILLE — Great defensive battles like Thursday’s quarterfinal contest between Phoenix College and Fort Scott Community College in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament are almost always decided by someone hitting a big shot.
Phoenix freshman Derreck Brooks was that guy with a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes as the Bears slipped past the Greyhounds 62-57 at the Mary Miller Gymnasium.
And the biggest one of the two long-ranged shots by Brooks actually came with 3 minutes, 41 second left when he just barely beat the shot clock off of a pass from Phoenix College guard Brandon Brown, who finished with 18 points and a game-high nine assists.
“Brandon, our point guard, got into the paint and they helped on him,’’ Brook said. “I was wide open and it was up to me to hit it.’’
That was the fourth 3-pointer of the game for Brooks, who finished with a game-high 19 points, and he added one more trifecta with 2:07 left giving the Bears (26-8) a 58-54 lead.
“Two or three of them were not contested, so those are the ones that hurt us in the second half,’’ said Fort Scott coach Michael Cook of the four 3-pointers that Brooks made in the second half. “The two in the corner and the shot clock one hurt us too, We stood around and watched a little bit in the last six minutes.
“That’s what happens. Brooks is solid. We still had a chance, but we didn’t execute on the offensive end.’’
The Greyhounds, who fall to 15-17, were just 3-of-8 with a turnover in the final six minutes, seeing their seven-point lead (50-43) evaporate into a five-point loss.
“That was two great defensive teams, fighting and scratching,’’ Cook said “We knew it would be that way. It was going to come down to who hit the big shots to win.