Men's College Basketball

Bench provides spark to extend Trail Blazers' season

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John Wood's Nick Rumbo attempts a 3-pointer against Lakeland in Friday's NJCAA Division II national tournament game on Friday in Danville, Ill. | Photo for the H-W/Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 23, 2019 12:01 am Updated: Mar. 23, 2019 1:26 am

DANVILLE, Ill. -- The emotional toll superseded the physical wear and tear, but only slightly.

Coming off a 90-88 loss in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II national tournament Thursday night, the John Wood Community College men's basketball team had less than 18 hours to regroup and get rested in order to pursue the goal of playing on the final day of the season.

"It was kind of weird," sophomore guard Carter Cramsey said. "We were thinking all week about trying to win a national championship, and then that goes out with the wind. But you still have to play and try to extend your season. It's kind of a weird thing, but I thought we handled it pretty well."

All the Trail Blazers needed was a little something from everyone.

The JWCC bench contributed 26 points and 20 rebounds, playing valuable minutes in Friday's 72-63 victory over Lakeland (Ohio) that moves the Trail Blazers in the fifth-place game. They will face Milwaukee Area Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday.

"It takes everybody coming in that's going to get minutes to impact the game the best they can and knowing how they can impact," JWCC sophomore guard Cory Miller Jr. said. "It shows how deep we are and how well we play together."

Miller led the Trail Blazers with 19 points, but he didn't score in the first half after pumping in 35 points in 36 minutes Thursday night against Cecil (Md.) College. The Trail Blazers led 29-24 at halftime despite that as the supporting cast came through, namely freshman guard Nick Rumbo and sophomore swingman Evan Morrison.

Rumbo had eight points, four rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes in his most productive game since scoring 14 points in a victory against Lincoln Land on Feb. 16.

"He's a big spark plug off the bench because he can do a lot of different things for us," Cramsey said. "When he comes in and he's playing well, it's a huge plus for us."

Morrison hadn't played in the first two tournament games, but he had two points and two fouls in three necessary minutes.

"It was a spot where we really needed somebody," JWCC coach Brad Hoyt said. "It was crucial."

Hoyt didn't hesitate to turn to Morrison or anyone else down the stretch either.

"We've got guys that we trust," Hoyt said. "We trust all of these guys. Some get more minutes than others. Some play and some don't. It's never because of a lack of trust, and they stick to it because they know we trust them."

The ability to deliver in tough spots builds that trust.

"We have a really deep bench," Cramsey said. "We have a ton of confidence in them."