Following a great home win against #2 nationally ranked DMACC, the Ellsworth Community College men looked to carry that momentum into the post season as they hosted the first round of the Regional Tournament against NIACC. The Panther men burst out of the gates on a 12-0 run and quickly extended it to 21-5 after four consecutive 3 point shots by Marquice Jones, which contributed to 12 of his 18 first half points.
ECC held the lead from start to finish, but the game was not without its share of momentum-changing runs and drama. NIACC made an early 2nd half surge, cutting the lead to 3 while holding the Panthers to 7 points on their first 15 possessions. However, the Panthers showed great resilience and toughness to weather the storm, roaring back with an incredible 27 points on 11 of their next 14 possessions. ECC was also able to capitalize on 27 points in transition. The Panthers took the win 77-60 over NIACC.
Despite early foul trouble from Kalehl Brown and David Dep's difficulty finding his range from deep, both men came up big down the stretch to drive home the win. Kalehl Brown came up big for the team with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist, and Dep had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal.
Jones has attributed his recent explosion of play to his brother, Shaquille Morgan, who tragically passed away in January of 2013. Jones' play has blossomed since sophomore night, which was also the birthdate of his late brother, Shaquille.
ECC will travel to Des Moines on Thursday, March 5, to take on DMACC in the 2nd round of the Regional Tournament.