Nov. 15—NICEVILLE, Fla. — The Indian Hills were flying high heading into Tuesday night's top-10 showdown with top-ranked Northwest Florida State.
The Warriors had vaulted up seven spots in the first regular-season NJCAA national rankings after winning their first three games, including a 75-72 win on Saturday over No. 20 Moberly Area on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Braden Sparks.
After hitting IHCC's last shot of Saturday's game, Sparks hit the first shot on Tuesday against the Raiders. Unfortunately for the Warriors, it would be the only shot that would fall for seventh-ranked Indian Hills during the first five minutes of a 79-63 loss in the seventh showdown since 2013 and fourth showdown in the past two seasons between the perennial national championship contenders, including match-ups in the the last two national tournaments.
"Northwest Florida State is a high-level junior college basketball team," Indian Hills head men's basketball coach Josh Sash said. "Credit to (NWF head coach) Steve Demeo and his squad for their performance. They dominated us inside with 48 of their 79 points coming in the paint.
"I did not do a very good job preparing our guys for this game."
Overall, Northwest Florida State (7-0) outscored Indian Hills 48-26 inside, turning the tide on the interior advantage that IHCC established over the weekend in winning twice at home during the Iowa-Missouri Challenge against Missouri State-West Plains and Moberly Area. Tavion Banks led the Raiders with 21 points in the win while Jadyn Shider added a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Trevion LaBeaux led Indian Hills with a game-high and career-high 25 points while collecting 14 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. William Burgre-Kassi came off the bench to score 10 points as IHCC cut a 30-point deficit in half with 2:51 left.
Indian Hills (3-1) continued a three-game road trip at Coastal Alabama-North in the first-ever meeting between the programs. The Warriors return to the Midwest this weekend traveling to fifth-ranked Vincennes on Saturday.