OCC men drop region opener, looking for shot at ACCA tournament

Feb. 29—Ozark Christian College's men's basketball team fell on Wednesday night in the opening round of the NCCAA Southwest Region tournament at OCC.

The fourth-seeded Ambassadors met the fifth-seeded Ambassadors from the College of Biblical Studies-Houston and fell in a close contest, 80-74.

"We had it down to one possession and just couldn't get a stop when we needed to. But the kids played hard against a pretty athletic and talented team," OCC head coach Chris Lahm said.

Ozark fell behind by as many as 17 in the second half but trailed by just 2 at 74-72 late in the game with about a minute to go.

Lahm said he believed his group may have played a "little scared" of CBS' athleticism early in the game that caused the deficit.

"We told them out of halftime we have to start going at them, we have to attack," Lahm said. "We started doing that and got some open looks and knocked shots down."

That better effort and faster tempo allowed the Ambassadors to come back.

That comeback attempt was led by 28 points from Andre Johnson, and joining him in double figures was Micah Colburn with 11.

Corey Nickerson led CBS with 25 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. Reese Jordan chipped in 16 while Bronson Evans added 12.

OCC could have been plagued by its 17 turnovers to the opposition's 12.

A power rating around 14th in Division II of the NCCAA will likely keep Ozark from earning an at-large bid to the NCCAA national tournament in Minneapolis, Minnesota, two weeks from now. Lahm also noted the first-round loss in the regional tournament will ail his team.

Ozark will still get a chance to play in the ACCA tournament, which will be held the same week in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Ambassadors are now 18-11 and won the Midwest Christian College Conference tournament after finishing the regular season as runner-up.

"It's been a great year. They've done really what I thought they would do," Lahm said. "We lost Joel Pugh. A lot of people thought that would hurt us but we had some guys step up. They've been a fun group to coach and done everything we could ask them."

OCC will graduate bench player Kaimana Baker and should return everyone else.

"If they all come back we should be solid. Get a couple recruits in and be pretty solid," Lahm said.

"Kai was a great leader. He had a lot of injuries early in his career. He knew he wasn't going to play much but he's been great in practice and pushed the guys with his defense and athletic abilities. He's been a great guy to have on our team."