Daveon Boardingham flexed, Mr. Olympia-style, toward Seward County Community College coach Bryan Zollinger after converting a three-point play.
A few minutes later, Boardingham was at it again – flying through the air to celebrate with teammates and playing to the Seward contingent parked at one end of the Sports Arena after hitting a jumper that forced a Wallace (Ala.) State timeout.
And all Zollinger could do was smile. That’s just the personality of Boardingham, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward who led the Saints with 23 points and 5 rebounds in a 71-52 win over Wallace on Tuesday in the opening round of the NJCAA Division I national tournament. Boardingham hit 9 of 11 shots from the field.
“Daveon is a very gifted athlete, and what you saw tonight was the culmination of two years of a lot really hard work,” Zollinger said. “He’s been willing to sacrifice and to take instruction in order to get better … and he’s a good kid.
“Him doing good shows you that the world is a just place sometimes.”
Seward, the Region VI and Jayhawk West champion, will play Columbia State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Wallace defeated Gordon 72-64 on Tuesday.
“I’m just having fun, I have to play with a smile on my face because if not, what’s the point?” Boardingham said. “You can’t play frustrated, you can’t play angry. That’s a sure path to failure.”
Both teams battled nerves early in the first half, but back-to-back baskets by Wichita native Kaheem Ransom snapped Seward out of an early funk and Boardingham did the rest of the work in the first half, leading the Saints to a 36-22 halftime lead.
“Because it’s the national tournament maybe that was why we were a little shaky at first,” Boardingham said. “I thought once we got settled down we were fine.”
In the second half, Boardingham was at it again, throwing down a monster dunk off a bounce pass from Corieon Pearson to give the Saints a 44-33 lead with 14 minutes left. After Wallace crept to within five at 52-47 with five minutes to play, Boardingham followed a Trey Starks miss with another dunk.
A three-pointer by Jayhawk West MVP Deverell Biggs on Seward’s next possession put the Saints up 57-47 and Wallace never threatened again.
“I thought we did a good job of not panicking when Wallace got close,” Zollinger said. “I knew Wallace had a lot of good shooters and were capable of making a run. There’s always someone who comes to this thing and wants to wear that glass slipper.”
Ransom added 16 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists for Seward and another Wichita native, Irvin Hollinger, was the only other Saint in double figures with 10 points. Jacquise Moore led Wallace with 15 points.
Halftime—Seward 36, Wallace State 22. Three-pointers—Seward 2-8 (Boardingham 1-1, Biggs 1-1, Pearson 0-2, Ransom 0-3), Wallace 4-17 (Moore 2-5, Murphy 1-3, Griffin 1-3, McKay 0-6). Rebounds—Seward 29 (Hollinger 6), Wallace 35 (Moore 6, Griffin 6). Assists—Seward 16 (Ransom 3). Total fouls—Seward 14, Wallace 15.
Jackie Patterson had 14 points and Chelsea Small 13 for Hutchinson, which grabbed 28 offensive rebounds and 72 total — 32 more than Meridian (22-11). Hutch outscored Meridian in the paint 36-8 and allowed Meridian one offensive rebound basket.
Laura Patrick and Jasmine Patterson had 10 points each for the Blue Dragons, who outscored Meridian 39-13 in the second half. They face Walters State at 8 tonight in the quarterfinals.
Halftime—Hutchinson 36-29. Three-point shooting—Meridian 5-26 (Lampson 2-10, Kearney 1-1, Bolton 1-3, Haynes 1-9, Gines 0-1, Johnson 0-1, White 0-1), Hutchkinson 4-15 (Patrick 2-5, Patterson 1-1, Small 1-4, Barlow 0-1, Sorrells 0-1, Webber 0-3). Rebounds—Meridian 40 (White 8), Hutchinson 72 (Patterson 11). Assists—Meridian 4 (Skinner 4), Hutchinson 20 (Patterson 6). Fouls—Meridian 17, Hutchinson 8.