Red Devils fall in national tourney opener

Lakeland took control early and never looked back in handing Allen Community College an 82-61 setback in the NJCAA-Division II National Tournament. Allen must win in consolation play Wednesday or go home.

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March 15, 2022 - 10:25 PM

Allen Community College’s Ahmed Mahgoub (30) scrambles for the ball with Lakeland’s Noah Berry (24) in the Red Devils’ 82-61 defeat to open the NJCAA-Division II National Tournament Tuesday. REGISTER/RICHARD LUKEN

DANVILLE, Ill. — Allen Community College has some work to do if it wants to stick around in its first-ever trip to the NJCAA-Division II National Basketball Tournament.

The Red Devils were greeted rather rudely Tuesday by the Lakeland (Ohio) Lakers, who blitzed their way to an early 12-0 run and never looked back in an 82-61 victory.

The loss means Allen (27-6) can finish no higher than seventh in the 16-team tournament. Allen will play Florida Gateway at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Danville’s Mary Miller Gymnasium.

An early 5-minute scoring drought sealed the Red Devils’ fate.

Lakeland’s pressure defense and ability to penetrate Allen’s defense were evidence of the Lakers’ speed and athleticism, ACC head coach Andy Shaw said.

“You could tell it was a point for them to get out and run,” Shaw said. “We were a step slow. We couldn’t keep up with them.”

Lakeland hit 8 of its first 9 from the field. The Lakers’ lead reached double figures by the 16:07 mark of the first half and grew from there.

Allen’s Brayden Thompson goes up for a layup Tuesday against Lakeland. Thompson scored 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting. REGISTER/RICHARD LUKEN

Allen’s Brayden Thompson gave the Red Devils a spark midway through the half, scoring six of ACC’s eight points in one stretch.

“Brayden finished well around the rim,” Shaw said. “We knew if we’d get the ball inside that their bigs would leave their feet, and we’d have some drop-0offs. We were able to do that, but it felt like we were already down 15, and could never quite get over the hump.”

A pair of Ed Wright free throws and a layup by Gabriel Boozer pulled Allen to within 29-18 with 8:19 left in the half, but Lakeland responded with an 8-0 run to lead by 19.

Marcos Vazcez’s 3-pointer with 1:55 left in the half pushed Lakeland’s beyond 20 for the first time.

Lakeland hit 6 of 11 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.

“Typically, they don’t make as many 3’s as they did in the first half,” Shaw said. “But they were getting into the paint, and they were kick-out 3’s. They were getting wide-open looks.

“We had some open looks, but didn’t make any shots in the first half,” he continued. “We made a couple in the second half, but we were in too big a hole to come back.”

Cedric Rollerson drilled three second-half 3-pointers, but Allen could get no closer than 17 on Wright’s trey with 5:23 remaining. Lakeland responded with an 8-0 run to douse any hope for an Allen comeback. 

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