For the first time since 2012, the Chadron State College men’s basketball team reached the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference playoffs last week and was commended by its coach for its effort, but didn’t shoot well enough to remain in contention late in the game with the playoff’s eventual winners, Colorado Mesa.
Playing in Grand Junction, the Eagles “stayed with” the nationally No. 5 ranked Mavericks until about midway in the second half on Tuesday, March 2. Mesa led by just 26-23 at halftime and was ahead by only 40-35 with 13 minutes remaining before going on a 10-point run in the next four minutes to get some breathing room from the hustling Eagles. The final score was 67-52.
The Mavericks, 19-1 after the win, shot 60 percent from the field, hitting 25 of 42 shots, besides making all 13 of their free throws. They also had a 38-26 rebounding margin.
Chadron State hit just 29.2 percent of its field goal attempts, going 19 of 65. Entering the biggest game any CSC team had played in nearly a decade, Coach Shane Paben’s team was shooting 44.2 percent for the season. If the Eagles has shot that well vs. the Mavs, they’d made 10 more baskets and at least 20 more points. They might have won.
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As it was, the Eagles sank nine 3-pointers to help their cause. Their spunky defense also forced 20 turnovers, a dozen more that the Eagles committed, to help them get 23 more shots from the field than Mesa.
Fifteen of the Eagles’ rebounds were offensive and they scored 13 second chance points.
“We competed our tails off, but just didn’t make enough shots,” Paben said. “Our effort and defense kept us in the game for a long time, but we didn’t get enough offense to keep up all the way.”
Mesa was led by 6-foot-7 sophomore Ethan Menzies, who had just two points and three rebounds in the first half, but scored his team’s first 11 points in the second half and finished with game-high 19 to go with 13 rebounds. Freshman guards Blaise Threatt and Chris Speller added 13 and nine points, respectively, while combining to make seven of eight field goal shots and all seven of their free throws.
Chadron State’s high scorer was junior Deundra Roberson with 11 points, while Brady Delimont and Marcus Jefferson each contributed eight. It hurt that leading scorer Teddy Parham made just two field goals (both treys) and finished with only six points after scoring 32 and 28 points in late February games.
Two quick fouls allowed Parham to play just nine minutes and go scoreless in the first half
Both Bryant Jefferson and KJ Harris came up with three steals and Psalm Maduakor was CSC’s top rebounder with five.
During the postgame interview with Voice of the Eagles Dave Collins, Paben said his team, which finishes 5-8, made some big strides this season.
“We competed well enough to win tonight. They played their tails off. We just didn’t make enough shots,” the first-year CSC coach said.
The team received a big blow when leading scorer and rebounder Jacob Jefferson, who was averaging 15.7 points and 5.7 rebounds and provided a stellar presence in the paint, was sidelined by a leg injury and missed the last six games.
Chadron State--Deundra Roberson 11, Brady Delimont 8, Marcus Jefferson 8, Teddy Parham 6, Psalm Maduakor 6, Kayden Sund 4, KJ Harris 4, Devin Buderus 3, Bryant Jefferson 2. Totals: 19-65, (9-27) 5-7 52 points, 26 rebounds, 8 turnovers.
Colorado Mesa--Ethan Menjies 19, Blaise Threatt 13, Chris Speller 9, Reece Johnson 7, Jared Small 6, Georgie Dancer 6, Trevor Baskin 4, David Rico 3. Totals: 25-42 (4-12) 13-13 67 points, 38 rebounds, 20 turnovers.
Chadron State 23 29 ---52
Colorado Mesa 26 41 ---67
3-pointers: CSC--Delimont 2, Maduakor 2, Parham 2, M. Jefferson 1, Roberson 1, Buderus 1. CMU--Speller 1, Johnson 1, Small 1, Rico 1.