Contact: C. Scott Shasteen
March 13, 2017
The Motlow State Bucks played one of their best games of the season at the perfect time, beating Walters State 91-67 to win the TCCAA/Region VII Tournament Friday afternoon on Walters' home court in Morristown, TN.
The Bucks (28-5) won both the conference regular season and tournament titles, and received a No. 14 seed in the upcoming NJCAA national tournament which begins March 20 in Hutchinson, Kansas. The Bucks will face No. 17 Coffeyville, Kansas, at 10 a.m. CDT on Tuesday. Motlow entered the week ranked No. 22 in the nation.
NJCAA Men's National Basketball Championship bracket Motlow has made only one previous trip to the national tournament, coming in 2013 after the Bucks also won the regular season and tournament championship. Motlow's previous tournament title teams; 1972-73, 1981-82 and 1983-84, did not advance to the national tournament. The Bucks won one game before being eliminated in 2013.
The championship game win came one day after the Bucks made one of the greatest comebacks in school history, overcoming a 24-point deficit in the final 16 minutes of the game to beat Roane State 75-66 in the semifinals. Motlow opened the tournament with a hard-fought 77-70 win over Jackson State.
Tournament Most Valuable Player Javion Hamlet was superb for the Bucks throughout the week, and the season for that matter, as he led the nation with an average of 8.7 assists per game. Motlow's Rashawn Fredericks and Isaiah Hart we also named to the all-tournament team. Hamlet and Fredericks were named to the All-TCCAA first team for the regular season, while Hart received second team honors.
Motlow Head Coach J.T. Burton, who won this same tournament 20 years ago as a player at St. Catharine, Kentucky; was named Coach of the Year. Burton has compiled an outstanding 53-12 record in his two seasons at Motlow. The 28 wins thus far this season ties the school record for the most wins in a season, set by the 2007-08 team under then head coach Bobby Steinburg.
The Bucks were simply dominant in the title game from start to finish, leading 40-26 at halftime. Walters State closed the gap to 10 points a couple of times in the second half, but each time they did the Bucks quickly built the lead back to 14 or 16 points.
Motlow shot 62 percent from the field and hit 7-17 three pointers. The Bucks outrebounded the Senators 44-22 and Motlow dished out 21 assists on 31 made baskets. At the free throw line the Bucks had their best game of the year, connecting on 22 of 26 attempts.
Hamlet was brilliant, scoring 30 points on 9-14 field goal attempts and connecting on all 10 free throws. He added six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Fredericks, who averaged a double-double on the season, scored 14 points with 11 rebounds and had two assists.
Jalen Bell scored 12 points with seven rebounds, Dillon Smith had 10 points, Hart scored nine with eight assists and four steals, Aleks Zecevic had eight points and five boards, and Damarcus Williams scored seven with 11 rebounds.
The Motlow State Bucks men's basketball team celebrates with its championship gold ball following a 91-67 win over Walters State Saturday in Morristown. With the victory the Bucks captured the TCCAA/Region VII Tournament championship and an automatic berth in the NJCAA national tournament. The tournament title was Motlow's fifth in program history and this year's team, with its 28 victories, has tied the school's all-time record for a single season. Photo provided.