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MEN'S BASKETBALL: RLC closes regular season, readies for Region 24 tourney ranked #1
INA, Ill. - Rend Lake College lost its final game of the regular season Saturday, 85-78, to Kaskaskia College in Ina. Kevon Fortney (Mt. Vernon) with 24 and Dawson Verhines (Woodlawn) with 23 were the leading scorers for the Warriors, who finished the regular season with a record of 15-14.
Rend Lake is the #1 seed at the upcoming National Junior College Athletic Association DII Region XXIV Tournament, March 10 and 11, at Illinois Central College in East Peoria. Two teams from the region will advance to the national championship tournament, March 20-24, at Danville Area Community College. The Region 24A Tournament will determine the NJCAA DII District 13 champion and will feature seeds 1, 4, 5 and 8. The Region 24B Tournament will determine the NJCAA DII District 14 champion and will feature seeds 2, 3, 6, 7 and 10.
RLC, as the top seed in the tournament, will play at noon, Saturday, March 10, against Shawnee Community College. The complete tournament bracket is expected to be finalized this weekend and announced Monday. RLC beat Shawnee 75-59 earlier this season on the road.
Bob Kelley, retired RLC sports information director, couldn't remember the Warriors being the top-seed in the region as a DII team. He said Rend Lake, as a DI team in back-to-back years in the late 80s, was #1 in the region tournament, but came up a game shy each year of making it to the national championship tournament. The 1987-88 squad lost in the championship game to Belleville Area College, and the '88-89 team won the regional, but lost in the inter-region playoff.
Rend Lake has never made it to the national championship tournament.
"It's an honor," RLC Head Coach Randy House said of being ranked #1 in Region 24. "The kids earned that. We didn't get any gifts. We had to beat teams." RLC is 6-1 against region opponents this season. "We have to come and play or we will lose [in the region tournament]. We have to play better than we have the last couple of games. We definitely have the capability of playing well enough to win and do something that has never happened in 40-plus years at Rend Lake - play in a national tournament game."
The Warriors will start things back up with practice Monday. House said Friday will be the last practice before the team heads to Peoria.
For all things athletic at The Lake, visit RLC online at www.rlc.edu/warriors.