Outworked on the glass and playing shorthanded, the Glen Oaks Community College men’s basketball team’s pursuit of a MCCAA state championship came up short Saturday in a 94-78 home loss to Wayne County.
In a clash of conference champions, the Wildcats were able to secure critical rebounds, pressure the Vikings into costly turnovers and keep turning the screws offensively to take home the title before gearing up for district tournament play next week.
The Vikings (22-6), whose emotions boiled over due frustration with their own performances and what they believed to be inequitable officiating, made small pushes down the stretch that never quite closed the gap.
“Like [Pat] Riley said, ‘No rebounds, no rings,’” GOCC head coach Steve Proefrock said. “We didn’t get a ring today because of that.”
Darreraul Jackson lit it up for Wayne County (22-4), finishing with 31 points. Shaun Duncan added 25 for the Wildcats, which led 44-35 at halftime. Wayne County entered the game ranked third nationally in Division II.
Glen Oaks cut the deficit to 52-48 with around 14 minutes to play, but a quick points on back-to-back Wayne possessions took some wind out of the Vikings’ sails.
Still scrapping, a Quilyn Howard-Upshaw drive got GOCC back to within 63-60, but Wyane answered with a bucket, a steal, back-to-back jumpers and an easy backdoor hoop after a five-second call on a Glen Oaks inbound to push the lead back to 73-60 with eight minutes to play.
“The ball bounced our way at those times and we capitalized on it,” Wayne County coach Rogeric Turner said. “When we got the opportunity, we made something good out of it. I told them if we get the ball back, we have to capitalize. They were patient and they did that.”
The Vikings, led by Lee Gardner’s 34 points, would eventually get back to within six points, but that’s as close as it got. And with each whistle, the Vikings were less inclined to keep their thoughts on how the game was being called private.
Down 84-74 with 44 seconds left, Proefrock took a stand and was given a technical.
“I did think the officiating was bad, though,” he said. “They didn’t lose the game, but they need to be accountable, too. That’s why I did get a technical foul because I wanted it. I didn’t swear at them or anything like that; I just told them I didn’t think they did a very good job.”
So did Angelos Griffis, whose 13 points were well below what he was used to pouring in on a nightly basis. He, too, was charged with a technical in the closing seconds and left the court to cool off.
Proefrock is confident his squad will bounce back Thursday in districts. The Vikings benefit from a first-round bye, which gives point guard Joe Beard and forward/center Jason Starks time to allow some bumps and bruises to heal. Glen Oaks had eight bodies available Saturday, including a less-than-100-percent Beard. Starks could have made a difference on the boards.
“If history is any indication, we’re going to respond well,” Proefrock said. “We’ve responded well all year. You’re not Western Conference champions with all the injuries we’ve been through and all the stuff we’ve been through this year in a long season without having character, being tough and bouncing back. This is a very resilient team — one of the most resilient teams I’ve ever had. They’ve had all kinds of reasons not to get it done and they’ve found a way to get it done.”
Aleksander Antic and Aundreyan Roberts each registered nine points for Glen Oaks, Beard added eight and Howard-Upshaw finished with four.