Air Force Prep buzzer-beater sinks MCC men

The Air Force Prep Huskies banked in a 3-pointer off the boards as time expired to sink the McCook Community College Men Tuesday in the Peter and Dolores Graff Events Center 81-80.  MCC had taken the lead on sophomore Peanut Cunningham’s (Louisville, Kent.) drive down the lane that put the Indians up 80-78 with 9.4 seconds remaining. Air Force Prep got the ball up court for a 3-pointer that missed but Prep’s Marcus Hill ran down the rebound and put it up and in for the win. “We box out and we’re happy with a great win over a quality team,” MCC Coach Brandon Lenhart said. “Instead we’re disappointed with a loss.”

The two teams battled back-and-forth in the first half. The Indians took an eight-point lead at the 12:56 mark but Air Force Prep fought back to lead by five points at the 7:12 mark. MCC took the lead back but the Huskies worked a last-second shot to end the first half and brought them to within four points of the Indians 40-36.

“We’re just having a hard tie guarding in half-court,” Lenhart said.  MCC stretched the lead to double-digits in the early part of the second half until the Huskies switched things up defensively.  They went to a zone and it slowed us down for four or five possessions,” Lenhart said. The Huskies cut the MCC lead to 62-59 at the 10:00 mark and the game remained tight down the stretch. “Peanut really lifted us in the second half,” Lenhart said.

Cunningham scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half to pace the Indians. Freshman Miles Black (Jonesboro, Ga.) hit three 3-pointers in the second half on the way to a 17-point night. Freshmen Tyrek Battle-Holley (Jersey City, N.J.) and Mardrez McBride (Augusta, Ga.) both chipped in nine points. Air Force Prep canned 30 of 55 field goals for the game (56.7 percent) and 14 of 34 shots from beyond the 3-point line (41.2 percent) including 10 of 21 in the second half (47.6 percent).

“You just can’t allow a team to shoot 56 percent for the game, 42 percent from the 3-point line and let them take 34 of them,” Lenhart said.  MCC shot 49.3 percent from the field on 69 shots, and 32.1 percent from the 3-point line on 28 shots,  The Indians out-rebounded the Huskies 35-31 with Sophomore Ron White (New York, N.Y.) leading MCC on the boards with seven.  “I mean there was a lot of good that took place tonight, but in a loss you give up an inch here and an inch there and it adds up,” Lenhart said. The Indians forced Air Force Prep into 17 turnovers, while committing nine.The Indians fall to 7-8 on the year and begin Region IX South Division Play this weekend in Colorado, Friday at La Junta, Colo. against Otero Junior College and Saturday at Trinidad State. Then comes two more Region IX road games Jan. 22 at Scottsbluff against Western Nebraska and Jan. 25 at Sterling, Colo. against Northeastern Junior College.  MCC’s only home game in the region comes Jan 29 when the Indians host North Platte.