For the first time since 1979, Niagara County Community College captured a regional championship in men's basketball. The top-seeded and host Thunderwolves overcame an early 20-point deficit and withstood several late Genesee CC rallies en route to a thrilling 81-80 overtime victory in the Region III Division II title game Sunday afternoon. NCCC (24-5 overall) advances to the NJCAA Div. II Tournament, which is scheduled for March 21-25 at Danville (Ill.) Area CC.
With NCCC nursing a two-point lead with just four seconds remaining in the extra session, freshman point guard Randy Corporan connected on 1-of-2 free throws. The Cougars then sprinted ahead for an attempt at a game-tying 3-pointer from Ladje Fofana. The shot went in, but the official ruled Fofana's foot was on the line and the celebration was on.
Sophomore guard Jamal Pollydore, the Tournament's MVP, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Freshman wing Donel Cathcart also netted 15 points, while sophomore guard Justin Alleyne-Washington finished with a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) off the bench. Sophomore forward Fausto Pichardo had nine points and 11 boards for the T-Wolves, who held a commanding 53-33 advantage on the glass. Alleyne-Washington and Pichardo were All-Tournament selections.
Niagara CCC 70, CCRI 59
In the semifinals, Pollydore again led the way with 18 points and six rebounds as the Thunderwolves shook off a slow start. Corporan connected on all three of his 3-point attempts to finish with 11 points to go along with four assists. Pichardo added nine points and 12 rebounds.