February 23, 2019 / No. 2 Trailblazers clinch district championship
VINCENNES, Ind. - The Vincennes University men’s basketball team captured the District 16 regular season championship Saturday night inside the P.E. Complex.
The No. 2 ranked Trailblazers defeated Southwestern Illinois 98-78 to improve to 27-1 overall and 17-1 in league play.
According to Trailblazer radio play-by-play announcer Dave Hunter, VU has now won at least a share of all six District 16 regular season titles. The Trailblazers won outright titles in 2013-15 and each of the last two years in addition to tying with SWIC in 2017.
“It was nice to wrap up the No. 1 seed but this does not really mean much,” sophomore guard Keith Clemons admitted. “We just have to continue to go out and play well and continue winning.”
The game was also sophomore night and the Trailblazers used an all-sophomore starting five for the first time this season.
Kevin Kangu and Jordan Lyons - who both transferred into the program - joined usual starters Lony Francis, Jr., George Dixon and Clemons.
“No questions it was a great way to send those guys out,” Trailblazers coach Todd Franklin said of his sophomores. “The three who have been here these past two years and also Kevin and Jordan who have jumped in and made sacrifices this year...they all have been key contributors to our success and they deserve everything they get.”
Clemons saved his best performance for Saturday night. Playing in front of a few NCAA Division I scouts, the sophomore point guard netted a career-high 30 points in addition to five assists and three rebounds.
“It felt good,” Clemons said of his career night. “I just wanted to go out and have fun, get my teammates involved and most importantly get this win. It feels great to go out with a bang.”
Franklin mentioned he was glad to see Clemons have the kind of night he did.
“I am not sure why but he has been struggling a bit with his confidence,” the Trailblazers Hall of Fame coach said. “But sometimes that just happens. Tonight all he did was simply give himself a chance to be good. He was on the hunt, more aggressive and more assertive. He didn’t play worried, he played to go out and win the game.”
Kevin Osawe broke a 13-all tie with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 12 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half.
The Trailblazers never relinquished the lead.
VU led 46-37 at the half and extended its lead throughout the second half with a lead as large as 25.
The game was a different outcome than when the two team played in Belleville last month.
SWIC held a 14-point second half lead before the Trailblazers mounted a late comeback for the win.
“I think the biggest difference in the two games was intensity,” Clemons said. “We came out with a lot more intensity tonight. This was a fun game.”
Craig Porter, who came one rebound shy of a triple double on Wednesday night, added 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in Saturday night’s win.
Francis and Osawe gave VU four players in double figures as both added 12 points apiece.
Francis finished with 10 boards for a double-double.
The Trailblazers out rebounded SWIC, 38-25.
The Blue Storm was led by sophomore Javonte Perkins’ game-high 37 points. Perkins scored a career-high 43 points against the Trailblazers in the previous meeting.
“He is a great player and they are going to continue to go to him so he is going to get his points,” Franklin said. “But we were more concerned with what we needed to do to stop their team.”
The win is the 12th straight for VU and it wraps up the regular season with a pair of road games this week.
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