Advertisement

'They left it all out there': TCC's tournament run ends after close game against top-seeded team

Just one game separated the 12th-seeded Tallahassee Community College men's basketball team from reaching a national championship game.

The Eagles (31-6) matched up against top-seed John A. Logan (32-2) in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship semifinals but narrowly fell, 94-89, in Hutchinson, Kansas Friday.

Turnovers proved costly to the Eagles. They committed 17 to the Volunteers' 13.

Trailing by three points with seven seconds remaining in the game, Malachi Davis misfired on an inbound pass that would've gave the Eagles a chance to knot the game to force overtime.

"It was a hard-fought game," an emotional TCC coach Rick Cabrera said. "I'm really proud of these guys. It stinks that it has to end this way, but we gave ourselves a chance. They left it all out there.

"It's been a great year ― a long year. I appreciate [the players] for allowing me to coach them."

A win would've sent TCC to its second-ever national championship game, with its only other appearance being in 2006 under head coach Eddie Barnes and finishing as runner-ups to Arkansas-Fort Smith.

MORE TALLAHASSEE EAGLENEST COVERAGE

Support System:With just two games to go, former TCC coaches rooting for program's first national title

A long journey from the Netherlands:Daniel Axson lands at Tallahassee Community College to chase baseball dreams

Next Level:As Tallahassee Community College marches toward national championship, Rick Cabrera's departure announced

Tallahassee's tournament run falls short, but finishing as a family takes the forefront

Tallahassee Community College men's basketball head coach Rick Cabrera looks on during a game at the Bill Hebrock Eagledome in Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee Community College men's basketball head coach Rick Cabrera looks on during a game at the Bill Hebrock Eagledome in Tallahassee, Florida

The Eagles fell in the semifinals, but did so as one.

Standout guard Addison Patterson returned from a three-game suspension from the FCSAA and immediately made up for his absences with 26 points off the bench to prove chemistry wasn't an issue.

Davis continued his hot tournament run with a game-high 31 points.

"I appreciate them allowing Addison to be back in the family. We finished our last game as a family," Cabrera said. "They wanted this so bad, and unfortunately we came out on the losing end."

Friday was Cabrera's final game coaching TCC as he moves up the latter to lead Division I Northwestern State University men's basketball in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

He finishes his two-year tenure in Tallahassee with a 52-16 record in with a Panhandle Conference championship and a NJCAA Tournament appearance.

He'll always bleed blue and gold no matter where he goes after bringing the program its seventh Panhandle Conference title this season.

"I don't do well with goodbyes," a choked up Cabrera said. "It's only been two years, but it feels like 20. I met a lot of great people in [Tallahassee].

"I'm an Eagle for life."

The NJCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship game will be played at 2 p.m. ET Saturday between John A. Logan and defending national champion Northwest Florida State College of the Panhandle Conference.

No. 7 seed NWFS beat No. 6 Indian Hills 79-75 in Friday's other semifinal.

Gerald Thomas, III covers Florida A&M University Athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at gdthomas@gannett.com or on Twitter @3peatgee.

Follow the Tallahassee Democrat on social media at Tallahassee Democrat (Facebook), TallahasseeDemocrat (Instagram), and @TDOnline (Twitter)

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: TCC basketball falls in NJCAA semifinals, ending Rick Cabrera era