North Platte fought top-ranked Iowa Western Community College all the way to the final minute Tuesday before their best season ever came to an end. The Knights led with two minutes left in the game, but the No. 1 ranked Sievers closed out the game with seven straight points.
The Reivers won by five, 79-74.
North Platte Community College, ranked No. 21 in the country, takes solace in 30 wins this season, the most in school history.
The Knights (30-6) played from behind most of the game after falling behind early to the Reivers (32-2).
The Knights trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half but never stopped battling, as they have done all year.
With 2:25 left in the game the Knights tied the game on a driving lay-up followed immediately by a steal and lay-up by Damon Brown to take a 72-70 lead.
The Reivers and Knights exchanged baskets down the stretch before the Reivers were able to knock down five free throws for the final margin of 79-74.
The Knights were able to force 16 turnovers from the Reivers but were out-rebounded 48-26 in the game, including 13 offensive rebounds by the Reivers compared to only five for the Knights.
The Knights shot the ball extremely well from 3-point territory, as they made 55 percent of their shots on 12 of 22 shooting. Ethan Montalvo led the way with 7 of 14 from behind the line.
Montalvo led all scorers in the game with 27 points. Damon Brown was also in double figures with 17 points and seven assists. Tim Simmons continued his hot shooting as he hit a perfect 6-6 from the field, including 3-3 from 3-point land. He finished with 15 points and led the Knights with five rebounds.
The Reivers were led in scoring by Dinjiyl Walker with 22 points and Ryan Bowie had 21.
“I am so proud of the way our kids battled today and the way they have all season,” said head coach Kevin O’Connor. “They never stopped fighting and in the end, give credit to Iowa Western for making plays down the stretch."
O'Connor said the program is indebted to the sophomores (Ben Wilson, Reath Jiech, Aboubacar Casse and Jack Kraemer) "for the work they have put in and for helping us get back here (to Hutchinson). It’s difficult right now but we will look back on this season with many great memories.”
Along with setting a school record in wins, the Knights were a perfect 14-0 at home in McDonald-Belton Gymnasium. The Knights also captured the Nebraska Community College Athletic Conference Champions with a perfect 6-0 record.
The Knights finished the season at the NJCAA D1 Basketball National Championship as they won Region IX for the second time in school history joining the 2009-10 team as the only other team to finish the season at the national tourney.
The Knights won the south subregion with a 14-2 record to earn the #1 seed in the Region IX Tournament, where they won four games in five days to capture the crown.
The sophomore class of Ben Wilson, Reath Jiech, Aboubacar Casse and Jack Kraemer along with transfer Eric Richardson graduate in May from North Platte Community College.