Sterling, CO – The No. 15 North Platte Community College men’s basketball team (27-4, 12-4 South Sub-Region) survived and advanced for the second straight game in the Region IX Tournament by defeating the Casper College Thunderbirds (19-13, 11-5 North Sub-Region) in overtime 71-70 behind a long 3-pointer from freshman Marco Pascolo.
“Big time players make big time plays and we had some guys do that today,” said head coach Kevin O’Connor. “We are very excited to be advancing and playing tomorrow.”
The Knights started out the game quickly and earned an early 11-2 advantage over the Thunderbirds. Casper would not go quietly and turned the tables on the Knights to take a 32-25 lead into the locker room. Tim Simmons and Cameron Williams each picked up two early fouls in the first half and saw limited action. Ethan Montalvo led the way for the Knights with 10 points while Jay Wright paced the Thunderbirds with 12.
In the second half, the Knight quickly cut into Casper’s lead and would take as much as a six point advantage, but like Saturday were unable to close the door on the Thunderbirds. Late in the game, Casper was able to take a two point advantage with 50 seconds left. After working the ball around for 30 seconds, freshman Marco Pascolo hit a step-back jumper with 18 seconds left to tie the game at 61. A great defensive effort by the Knights forced Wright into a double-clutch shot that flew wide to send the game in overtime.
In overtime, Casper would get on the board first and would gain as much as a three point advantage over the Knights. Montalvo came up with two huge steals to keep the Knights in the game. The Knights once again found themselves with the ball, down two with 50 seconds remaining. Once again the Knights would work the ball around and once again Pascolo would be the hero. A skip pass from Cameron Williams found Pascolo open on the wing for the game winning points with 18 seconds remaining. The Knights were once again able to get a stop and advance to the Region IX Semifinals tomorrow.
The shot was Pascolo’s second straight game winner after scoring a lay-up with two seconds remaining Saturday to give the Knights an opening round victory.
“It was what you practice every day for,” said Pascolo “to be in that position and make the shot. I wasn’t thinking about how poorly I had shot the ball today (1-8 from 3) and just let it fly and knew it was going in.”
The Knights were led by Ethan Montalvo who finished with 22 points. Pascolo was second on the team with 14 points, while Tim Simmons and Jake Maslo each scored 11. Maslo led the Knights with eight rebounds.
Jay Wright paced the Thunderbirds with 22 points while Daniele Nwosu score 20. George Edwards was the third Thunderbird in double figures with 13.
The Knights advance to play the No. 1 seed from the North Sub-Region and nationally ranked No. 9, the Gillette College Pronghorns (28-3, 15-1 North Sub-Region) tomorrow evening in the Region IX Semifinals at 7 p.m. CST. The game will be live streamed at www.ihigh.com/gonjc/ and will be broadcast live be ESPN Radio 1410. The Pronghorns defeated the No. 4 seed from the South Sub-Region McCook Community College (21-11, 9-7 South Sub-Region) by a score of 109-97.