The Johnson County Community College women’s basketball team had a storybook setup for the NJCAA Division II national championship.
The Cavaliers were hosts to Parkland College, and the Cavaliers had the chance to win their second national title on their home court on Saturday night.
Sure enough, Alexis Brown knocked down a buzzer-beating jumper which brought the fans to a midcourt dog pile as third-ranked Johnson County found its perfect ending with a 66-64 victory against top-ranked Parkland College.
“It was surreal,” Johnson County coach Ben Conrad said. “One of my assistants had to grab me and tell me what happened. That’s when it finally hit. It was pretty awesome.”
It was the Cavaliers’ first championship since 2000 and the first for Conrad, who picked up his 300th career win in the process. He has a 207-32 record in seven seasons with the Cavaliers and six consecutive 30-plus win seasons.
The Cavaliers only shot 35.5 percent from the field in the first half, but used a barrage of three-pointers to take a 34-31 lead into the locker room.
Johnson County was also able to put together a 15-2 run midway through the first half that included baskets from six different players.
The Cavaliers faced their first real deficit with 16:54 left in the second half, but it did not last long. From there, the two teams fought through four ties and six lead changes and entered the final minute knotted at 64-64.
They inbounded the ball with 16.7 seconds left and got it to Brown, who came through with the winning jumper.
Brown, who came into the game off the bench, finished with 14 points.
Nieka Wheeler, who is from Independence, was named tournament MVP. She led the Cavaliers on Saturday night with 16 points
Erica Nelson, of Lee’s Summit, finished with 11 points.
JCCC’s 10 tournament appearances are tied for fourth all-time. The Cavaliers’ last appearance was 2012.
The victory ended a 35-game winning streak for Parkland College, which had not lost since its season opener. Nadine Vaughn led the Cobras with 20 points on a seven-for-nine performance from the field.
Penn Valley men finish seventh
Penn Valley won the seventh-place game in the NJCAA D-II men’s tournament on Saturday in Danville, Ill. Penn Valley beat Lansing (Mich.) 96-91.
Cornell Duley had 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Penn Valley.