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Trailblazers drop 1st decision of season in district tournament championship game

BY THE SUN-COMMERCIAL

INA, Ill. — Vincennes University's toughest competition all year has been John A. Logan. On Saturday, the Volunteers were too tough.

No. 22 Logan erased a 10-point deficit in the final four minutes of regulation, then fought through two overtimes to deliver the Trailblazers their first loss of the season, 105-98, in the District 16 championship game.

Mychal Mulder hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 38 points for VU (32-1), which was the last unbeaten junior college team in the country before Saturday. Despite the loss, the Blazers are advancing to the NJCAA Finals as an at-large selection in the 24-team field. The tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., begins on March 16.

"When we're up 10 with less than four minutes against this team, you've done a good job," VU coach Todd Franklin said. "We force a bad shot, and before we touch the ball again the lead is down to five. That changed the whole momentum of the game."

"Mulder was tremendous on the offensive end. We made enough plays offensively to win the game. But we didn't make enough stops or grab enough rebounds," he said. 

The game was tied at 38, 81 and 92 at the end of the first half, regulation and first overtime.

"I've been saying for awhile that we have to get tougher, mentally and physically. It kind of rings hollow when you win every night," Franklin said. "We were acting tired late in the game. They weren't acting tired, and we had the early games both days before this one."

Martavian Payne scored 27 and Russell Woods 23 to lead the Volunteers , who lost to VU in the regular season, 71-70 and 76-69. 

VU played the end of the game without its three biggest players, 6-9 Makur Puou, 6-8 A.J. Patty and 6-8 Nigel Holley. They had all fouled out.

"They were banging bodies, and we didn't bang back," Franklin said. "We had them back on their heels in the first overtime, but they hit some big shots. They had some 25-footers in that first overtime, shots that are tough to make in that situation, but them made them."

Charles Foster added 14, and Everett Clemons and Patty scored 11 for the Blazers.

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The Vincennes University Athletic Department hosts Play4Kay and raises donations for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund annually. VU Women’s Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Harry Meeks has a special connection to the late Yow, who was the longtime coach at North Carolina State. He had the pleasure of meeting her while he was an assistant coach at Western Carolina University. This left a lasting impression on him and made this cause important to him and the Trailblazers.

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