TCC set to face top seed in national tourney semifinals after winning third consecutive game

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The Tallahassee Community College men's basketball team has been following a familiar script in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

The Eagles have trailed at the half in each of their three games at the Hutchinson Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The second half, however, has been a different story.

That story continued Thursday, as No 12 seed TCC beat No. 13 seed Dodge City 75-69 to advance into Friday's semifinals showdown against No 1 seed John A. Logan (31-2), out of Carterville, Illinois.

For the third consecutive game, the Eagles (31-5) were led by Malachi Davis.

The guard finished with 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Davis was coming off a school-record 48-point performance in Wednesday's 94-93 overtime win over Salt Lake CC, sealing the game with a trey and free throw with three seconds remaining. Davis opened the tourney with a 31-point effort in Monday's 78-75 victory over Trinidad State, scoring seven of his team's final eight points.

Davis entered the 24-team tourney averaging 14.8 points per game. He is averaging 37.3 points in the national tourney, making 41-of-82 field goals (50 percent), and 30.6 points over his last six games.

The Eagles could receive a boost with the possible return of leading scorer Addison Patterson (19.2 ppg).

Patterson was suspended by the FCSAA for three games after he was ejected for the second time this season during the recent state tournament.

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Final Four features familiar opponent

The Eagles have overcome slow starts in the national tourney - and have played an extra game.

They trailed Trinidad State 44-34, Salt Lake CC 43-41 and Dodge City 37-33 at the half of their first three games.

Okechukwu Okeke added 11 points and Tom Mark 10 against Dodge City.

John A. Logan, meanwhile, received a first-round bye.

The Vols, riding a 29-game win streak, beat No. 16 seed Monroe 105-85 Tuesday and No. 8 Midland 74-70 Thursday. They rallied in the final five minutes of Thursday's game behind James Dent, who made six straight foul shots.

Logan had not won a national tournament game in four previous trips to Hutchinson.

TCC was one of three Panhandle Conference teams in the national tourney, joined by No. 9 seed Chipola College and No. 7 seed/defending national champion Northwest Florida State College.

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

While Chipola dropped its second-round game, NWFS made easy work of its first two opponents with wins over No. 10 seed Butler (71-59) Tuesday and No. 15 seed Vincennes (68-55).

TCC, Chipola and NWFS shared the Panhandle Conference title, and NWFS edged TCC in the state tournament. While NWFS earned an automatic bid into the national tournament, TCC and Chipola received at-large bids.

TCC is chasing its first national title in men's basketball.

In 2006, TCC finished as national runners-up as it lost in the National Championship game to the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.

On Wednesday night, TCC announced that second-year head coach Rick Cabrera will depart at the end of the season to become the head coach Northwestern State University, a Division I program in Louisiana.

Speculation began to build on social media earlier this week regarding Cabrera's status.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: TCC beats Dodge City, on to semifinals in NJCAA basketball tournament