By JOSH RIZZO
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Jon White just didn't feel right. When he released his free throw, the 6-foot-1 John Wood Community College freshman guard knew it wasn't going to go in.
Bolting off the line, White tracked down the rebound, scored and was fouled again.
White converted the three-point play, helping the third-seeded Trail Blazers beat sixth-seeded Parkland College 55-41 during a NJCAA Region 24 quarterfinal Friday at the Student Activity Center.
It was an outburst of energy JWCC (21-9) will need more often if it hopes to upset nationally-ranked and second-seeded Danville Area Community College (28-3) in the semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Jaguars, ranked second in NJCAA Division II, advanced with a 70-56 win over Lincoln Land Community College.
Before White's play with 12 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the game, the Cobras had cut the lead to 30-23. In six seconds, White scored his only four points, making the first of two free throws before his three-point play.
"I shot it and it felt like it was off, so I went and got it," White said. "(JWCC coach Brad Hoyt) has been telling us all day to go to the glass and get the rebounds. If we go straight back up, it would get us in the game."
James Lane, who finished with a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds, was envious of his teammate's hustle.
"That was crazy," Lane said. "He does that a lot. He shoots it and gets his own rebound. I wish I was that fast so I could do that, but I'm not. I get other people's rebounds."
In the first half, the Trail Blazers were content to settle for jumpers and struggled offensively. JWCC led 23-15, but only made three trips to the free-throw line. Brad Hamilton, who finished with 13 points, opened the game with a 3-pointer to give the Trail Blazers the lead, and they never trailed the entire 40 minutes.
Two free throws from Dominique Walls, who finished with 10 points, allowed the Cobras to tie the game at 11 with 6:08 left in the first half, but Parkland (18-12) never went ahead. Kourtlin Jackson made a layup to put JWCC up 13-11 with 5:22 left before halftime.
"I thought we had guys open around the basket, and I thought we could have got out in transition," Hoyt said. "We didn't go to the offensive glass well in the first half. I don't know if it was postseason thinking, but we have to do a better job of creating baskets around the rim. You do that in transition, on the offensive glass and throwing the ball in to our big guys."
The Cobras shot 20 percent (6 of 29) from the field in the first half and never found their rhythm.
"I think it starts on our offensive end," Cobras coach Anthony Figueroa said. "We held them to 55 points, which is fantastic, but we only scored 41. Some of that may be attributed to their defense, but I thought we had some open shots we didn't make. It wears on their defense when you're not scoring and you have to get stops time after time. They were well-disciplined."
Attacking the rim allowed JWCC to pull away in the second half. The Trail Blazers earned 18 trips to the free-throw line in the second half and were more focused on working the ball inside.
"With about 15 minutes left, we got a couple easy ones at the basket," Hoyt said. "When they do that, they think, ‘Oh, that works,' and so that got us back in that mode a little bit. It allowed us to grind it and get it to the rim. I think they understood it. I just don't think we were aggressive enough and our personality was right to take advantage of it. Second half, our personality improved and we were able to take advantage of it."
JWCC outrebounded Parkland 28-14 in the second half. A'Darius Porter finished with nine points and seven rebounds for JWCC.
"Coach Hoyt told us when we get going when we get offensive rebounds," Lane said. "When we get offensive rebounds, we get energy and get going."