Southwest Enters National Tournament as Number 12 Seed, Take on Spartanburg in First Round

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Keith Gentry

The Southwest men’s basketball team, winners of the TCCAA regular season and Region VII tournament championships, are seeded 12th in the 24-team NJCAA Division 1 National Tournament March 14-19 in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The 28-4 Saluqis, under the guidance of TCCAA Coach of the Year Jerry Nichols, will take on 21st seed Spartanburg Methodist in a first round game at 4:30 p.m. on March 14. The winner will play fifth-seed North Idaho on March 15 at 8:30 p.m.

Projected starters for Southwest include first team All-TCCAA selections David Burrell, the Most Valuable Player of the Region VII Tournament who leads the team in scoring with a 15.3 average, and University of Memphis signee Jimario Rivers, who averages 13.0 points per game and leads the team in rebounding with a 7.2 average. Also in the starting lineup are shooting guard Lorenzen Wright Jr., a second team All-TCCAA pick who averages 9.7 points per game and is the team’s top three point threat, point guard Brandon Key, who leads the team in assists with 5.5 per game, and forward Gonda Ameri, who is one of the team leaders with a 58.1 field goal percentage.

Top scorers off the bench for the Saluqis are guards Ronald Whitaker and Kennedy McKinney, who each average 9.2 points per game. Whitaker was a second team All-TCCAA selection and was also named to the Region VII All-Tournament team. Other reserves on a very deep team are guards Julian Daughtry, Payton Wilson and Marcus Watson Jr., and forwards Jovontae Waldon, John Crnogorac and Jaquez Johnson.