Nothing like a late-season run to energize a team, and its fan base.
Both Kilgore College basketball teams are doing just that, as the regular season winds to a close in Region XIV Conference play.
The Lady Rangers surprised 17th-ranked Panola College here at Masters Gymnasium on Saturday, an 80-75 win, and then the Rangers knocked off Panola, 80-60, to keep their hopes of making the conference tournament alive.
Each KC squad has just two games left. Coach Brian Hoberecht’s Rangers (15-11 overall, 7-10 in conference play) will visit Navarro tonight at 7 p.m., in Corsicana, and the Lady Rangers will host Angelina College tonight at 5:30.
On Saturday, both KC teams finish their regular season at home against Trinity Valley – the ladies game tips off at 2, and the men follow at 4.
Conference tournaments will both be played at Jacksonville College next week (March 6-10); the top 12 men’s teams make the tournament, and the top eight women’s teams.
The men’s tournament starts Tuesday afternoon; the women’s begins on Wednesday. Title games for both are Saturday, March 10.
KC 80, Panola 60 (men): KC hit almost 50 percent of its shots in this one, and Panola never really threatened in the second half.
The Rangers got 15 points from James Conteh and 13 from Chad Bowie. Malachi Davidson added 12.
Juwan Williams led Panola, and all scorers, with 16.
KC is last in its division within the conference, but not last right now if tournament seeding was done. As the top 12 teams go to the tournament, only two will be left out. Right now, Angelina has a 5-12 record, and Lee is 3-15. KC has the inside track to be in the tournament.
KC 80, Panola 75 (women): Unlike the men, only the top eight seeds go to the tournament in women’s play, and KC, with a 12-6 conference record, is currently in third place – Jacksonville College leads with a 15-3 record. Trinity Valley and Panola are tied with 14-4 marks in conference.
The Lady Rangers, coached by Anna Nimz, are 18-9 overall.
With 44 seconds left against Panola, KC led just 73-70, courtesy of a lay-up by Hennessy Handy. Jade Thurmon hit one of two free throws for the Lady Rangers with 28 seconds left to give them a four-point lead. Handy hit another freebie three seconds later.
Panola just kept up the fouling strategy, but KC kept hitting them, and the Fillies finally ran out of time.
Thurmon, one of the conference’s leading scorers, had 31 points. Alicia Mardis had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Richelle Velez had nine points, all on three-point shots. Handy and Alexus Moore each had six. Panola was led by Dasha Eremeeva, who had 18.