KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been a historic season for the Shawnee State men’s basketball team in almost every way imaginable.
So it’s only fitting that head coach DeLano Thomas and his club will have the opportunity to finish off the season in a truly legendary manner.
Donoven Carlisle, James Jones, Kobe Johnson and E.J. Onu led Shawnee State by each scoring in double figures — with Carlisle (19 points) posting a season-high and Jones (17 points, 11 rebounds) adding in a double-double — as the Bears advanced to Tuesday evening’s NAIA National Championship Game with an 82-77 victory over St. Francis (Ind.) in a Monday evening NAIA National Semifinal inside Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.
Shawnee State (30-2), despite losing the rebounding battle by four (47-43), again found a way to win behind its balanced scoring and unselfish team play.
The Bears posted 21 assists on their 31 made baskets Monday evening, leading to a 31-of-67 mark from the field (46.3-percent) as a group.
Shawnee State was down eight (32-24) in the first half and seven twice (55-48 and 58-51), but never flinched in the eyes of adversity — rallying back every time with one crucial play after another in the five-point win.
Carlisle heads scoring,
Throughout Monday evening’s contest, the bench — in particular — showcased excellent energy all game long.
Carlisle, in particular, was on point throughout the contest — as the senior picked a great time to have his best scoring output of the season.
From the time that Carlisle checked into the game with 15:24 to play in the opening half, the senior made an immediate impact — as the 6-foot-8 forward from Indianapolis scored six straight points as part of an 11-0 run that helped the Bears take a 17-11 advantage with 13:56 remaining.
In the second 20-minute stanza, Carlisle struck again.
With the Bears trailing by a 55-48 count with 12:38 to go, the crafty four-man scored seven points in an 11-3 run — helping put Shawnee State back in front by a 59-58 tally with 8:16 to play.
Carlisle then scored twice inside over the game’s final two-and-a-half minutes, helping keep the Bears ahead for good — with Shawnee State opening up its lead to a 77-72 count after Carlisle’s pair of buckets.
For the contest, Carlisle notched his 19 points and eight rebounds on outstanding efficiency, shooting 8-of-10 from the field.
outstanding tournament tear
Simply excellent at every level, the Shawnee State senior Jones was his usual self scoring the basketball.
However, in Monday evening’s national semifinal, Jones was also excellent as a facilitator.
Enjoying an efficient first half with eight points on 4-of-7 from the floor, Jones set up his teammates for easy finishes as well — as the senior from Chicago finished with six assists in the opening half and five in the second to tally 11 overall.
Jones also added in seven rebounds to boot, en route to yet another complete floor game.
For the tournament, Jones — per game — is averaging 21.7 points, six rebounds and 5.3 assists.
fire from deep
Playing into a consistent flow and within the confines of the offense, Shawnee State senior guard Kobie Johnson was outstanding on Monday.
Johnson posted six points in both halves with timely treys, going 4-of-7 from beyond the arc to lead the Bears from downtown — with none of them bigger than his last, a bomb from dead-on with 5:01 to go that allowed Shawnee State to take a 68-66 lead.
It also kept St. Francis from taking a lead over the remainder of the game in the process.
The senior from Middletown also added in two late free throws to help seal the deal.
E.J. dominating all day
With yet another outstanding effort defensively, Onu continued providing the goods.
He finished with 10 points, nine blocks and five rebounds to profoundly impact the affair at all levels.
The senior posted five of his nine blocks in the opening half.
According to Small College Basketball, Onu is averaging 14.6 points, 9.3 blocks and nine rebounds per game for the entire tournament.
With the win, Shawnee State advanced to play Lewis-Clark State of Idaho (21-1) in Tuesday night’s NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game — which will start at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST).
The contest will be streamed live on ESPN 3, with the link listed here.
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