Lions draw regional 2-seed

Men’s basketball Head Coach Robert Corn embraces Rob Corn Jr. as the Lions celebrate an MIAA tourney win

Kevin Harris

Men’s basketball Head Coach Robert Corn embraces Rob Corn Jr. as the Lions celebrate an MIAA tourney win

It may not be in Joplin, but the Lions have made the dance.

Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball team begins play in the South Central Regional tournament tomorrow.

After a heartbreaking loss in the MIAA Championship tournament title game last Sunday, Southern will now face another conference foe in the first round tomorrow.

In the regular season, the Washburn Ichabods were one of the few teams to overcome the Lions.

Splitting the season series, Head Coach Robert Corn says it’s never easy to beat a good team once, let alone three times, as his team had to do in the first two rounds at Municipal Auditorium.

“Every time you beat them, the other team has a little more incentive to compete and do well,” he said.

“And Fort Hays’ situation, they were preseason pick to win the conference. They were ranked fifth at one time, in the nation.

“So we knew that they were a very, very good basketball team.

“In Washburn’s situation we split in the regular season so it should be pretty interesting to see what happens.”

Corn says he believes facing a familiar foe in Washburn will be an advantage as it will give his team “more time to focus on ourselves” rather than being overrun with scouting reports for a new opponent.

“It would have been a shame, as good as our conference is, to have only had two teams [make the regional tournament],” Corn said.

“We were glad to have a third team in there. It’s a situation where we know each other.

“Fortunately we didn’t have to play them in the conference tournament, so it’s been a few weeks sine we played them the last time.”

In Kansas City, Southern escaped a Southwest Baptist team by seven points, 101-94, in the first round before nipping the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks 88-85 to advance to the championship game against FHSU.

Down as many as 18 in the second half, the Lions made a game of it late, scratching to within eight points but never could get over the hump as they fell to the Tigers 89-83.

Senior guard Dominique Jones carried the Fort Hays offense with 30 points opposite his counterpart Bowlin’s 22. Jones also had seven assists.

“We didn’t play very good defense at all,” senior guard Skyler Bowlin said.

“I don’t know why that was but we just didn’t have the energy and intensity which completely baffles me because, you know, you’re playing for a conference championship. It was all of us, it wasn’t just certain people, it was all of us, we didn’t come out ready to play.”

Fort Hays will face West Texas A&M University in the first round of regionals.