Fort Pierce, Florida – For the second year in a row The Indian River State College (IRSC) Men's Basketball Team is headed to the FCSAA Region 8 Basketball Championship Tournament in Ocala, Florida. The Pioneers defeated Miami Dade College 74-71 to qualify for the tourney.
It was "Sophomore Night" at The River with 9 sophomores being recognized for their contribution to the IRSC Men's Basketball Program. The nine sophomores, Kimani Binder, Charlie Daniels, Marc Syles, D.J.Winston, Jelani Rogers, Micah Johnson, Eddie Williams, Kahleel Ellis Garcia, and Josh Lewis were escorted by family and friends to center court where they were honored for their accomplishments. "This group of sophomores has had a major impact on our program, and I couldn't be prouder of their accomplishments," stated a proud IRSC Head Coach Charlie Wilson. The win raised IRSC's record to 20-10 overall this season and 43-18 in the last two seasons with back-to-back state tournament appearances.
The Pioneers took an early 15-9 lead after a nice pass from point guard Micah Johnson to Kimani Binder for the lay-in with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half. Jai Clark hit a three-point shot from the right wing building the lead to 14, 23-9. Miami Dade came back strong outscoring IRSC 12-3 and pulling to within 2 points, 26-24 and the score was tied at 34 heading into halftime.
The second half saw much of the same intensity and effort from both teams. The score was knotted at 43 with 15:25 remaining. Miami Dade held a one point advantage through much of the second half as the teams traded buckets, but a steal and alley-oop layup by Kahleel Ellis Garcia put the Pioneers up 3 with 6:11 left. Miami Dade fought back knowing this could be their last game of the season and tied the score at 66 with 5:13 on the clock.
IRSC took back the lead when Micah Johnson was fouled on an offensive rebound putback and converted 1 of 2 free throws increasing the advantage to 74-70 with 1:45 remaining in the game. Johnson's free throw was the last points the Pioneers would score in the contest, but it proved to be enough as the defense took over and sealed the win, 74-70. Leading scorers were Kimani Binder 18, Charlie Daniels 17 and Eddie Williams added 13 points. "This team showed a great amount of determination and effort tonight, they would not give up," commented an ecstatic Coach Wilson.
IRSC secured a trip to the FCSAA Basketball Championship Tournament in Ocala, Florida. The Pioneers will take on NJCAA #1 Florida Southwestern at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 7th.