By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The numerous transfers on the Culver-Stockton College men's basketball team were aware of the historic turnaround this year's team generated.
Senior forward Jim McKee, however, lived through it.
McKee started 45 games his first three seasons at C-SC and averaged 16.6 minutes per game.
In those three seasons, C-SC tallied 18 wins total.
This year, the Wildcats captured their first winning season since 2004-05, made their first national tournament appearance since 1959 and advanced further in the postseason than ever before.
C-SC's season ended Saturday with an 86-82 loss to No. 13-ranked Georgetown (Ky.) in the quarterfinals of the NAIA Division I national tournament at Municipal Auditorium. C-SC finished the season 26-9.
"It's been a whirlwind year," McKee said. "I told them before I left that this is the most fun I've ever had in my life with any team -- high school, AAU, whatever -- and that I was proud to go out with this team. I wish I could come back for one more with this exact same team. I wish we could come back."
McKee was one of three seniors for C-SC. The other two, Marshawn Norris and Austin Keaton, were in their first season with the program after transferring. In fact, each of C-SC's top seven players was a first-year transfer player.
McKee said it took a little while in the preseason for the returning players and the transfers to gel, but once it happened, it set the stage for the historic season.
Part of the beauty of this team, McKee said, was that every Wildcat accepted his role. That included McKee, who became the team's eighth man. He played in 33 games, started one and averaged 7.5 minutes per game. He played four minutes off the bench Saturday.
"I just wanted to do whatever I had to do to make this team be successful, and I accepted my role," McKee said. "I didn't care how many minutes I played, whether it was long or short. I just wanted to win."
Second shots hurt 'Cats: C-SC coach Jack Schrader proved to be prophetic.
He said after the Wildcats outrebounded Concordia (Calif.) 43-32 in Friday's 97-85 win that it's his belief that first shots don't beat teams but rather second-chance opportunities.
Georgetown claimed a 49-34 rebounding edge over the Wildcats en route to advancing to the semifinals. C-SC had outrebounded 24 opponents this season.
The Tigers had a 16-8 advantage on the offensive glass and 22-14 edge in second-chance points.
"They were a load," Schrader said.
Monty Wilson made what proved to be the game-winning shot when his long two-point jumper with 31 seconds remaining put the Tigers ahead 84-82. It came after his offensive rebound prolonged the possession.
"They got that second-shot opportunity," Schrader said. "If you get the rebound and you push it, you get the easy look."
Whistle happy: Schrader said the game was played at a "choppy pace" early in the second half, during which time Georgetown was making a 16-4 run.
There six fouls called during the opening three minutes of the second half. There were also some stoppages of play during the game for delay of game warnings.
"They had sent a memo about after a basket comes through, if you catch it if you've made it and throw it to the ref, you're not supposed to do that," Schrader said. "I was joking with one of the refs. I know he has to warn everybody, but I said, ‘It's quicker to just to pass the ball to the guy and go.'"
Bad timing: It was odd to see the Wildcats get outscored 49-30 in the second half Saturday. C-SC came into the contest 20-0 when leading at halftime.
The Wildcats overcame a 30-28 halftime deficit to beat Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 91-72 on Thursday in the first round. In Friday's second-round game, C-SC trailed Concordia 41-40 at halftime but won 97-85.
Iron Man: Norris played 40 minutes Saturday and played all but 1 minute, 53 seconds during C-SC's three-game stay.
"I wish I could play 40 more Monday," Norris said, referring to the tournament's semifinals.
Tidbits: Georgetown is making its 32nd appearance in the NAIA national tournament, including its 22nd straight. The Tigers improved to 13-3 in quarterfinal games. … Georgetown's Vic Moses tallied 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds Saturday for his 16th double-double of the season. … Norris' 10 assists marked the fifth game this season he's had double-digit assists. … C-SC made 16 3-pointers Saturday. Its single-game school record is 17 treys. The tournament record is 18 3-pointers. … Norris finished the season with 118 3-pointers and 240 assists, which are C-SC single-season records. … C-SC's 383 3-pointers this season shattered the program's previous single-season record of 210. ... C-SC dropped to 18-3 in games this season in which it scored at least 80 points.