Basketball (M)

The Patriots celebrate following their selection to the National TournamentThe Patriots celebrate following their selection to the National Tournament

Kansas City Bound

The Patriot men’s basketball team is Kansas City bound after receiving their second bid in four years to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national tournament.

The St. Catharine Patriots had a lot to celebrate on Wednesday night when the field of national tournament teams was announced as they learned that they had earned an invitation to the 2014 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in Kansas City, Missouri. The Patriots received an At-Large berth and will square off against the number five seed Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) Lions on Thursday March 20th at 4:30 PM CST.

For the Patriots it was a year full of ups and downs as they battled through a tough Mid-South Conference schedule. “The Mid-South Conference is tough” said Head Coach JT Burton. “You have to be ready to play every single night.” In fact, the Patriots completed a schedule that was ranked in the top 10 nationally for difficulty and were able to score an 18-12 record with a 10-8 mark in the Mid-South Conference. In the first round, the Patriots will square off against a very experienced SAGU squad that fell in the final game of the 2013 version of the NAIA National Championship to Patriot rival Georgetown College 88-62. The Lions come into the contest with a 26-5 mark and will be led offensively by senior guard Dominique Rambo, who is averaging 23.6 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per contest. The Lions come into the contest third in the country in total three pointers with 313 and fourth in three point field goals per game with 10.097. On defense the Lions boast an impressive 11.48 steals per game and a total of 356 on the year. “They are solid defensively” said Burton. “We are going to have to find ways to score while taking care of the ball.”

For the Patriots, Second Team All-Conference member Omar Skinner (New Castle, Del.) will lead the way with 13.6 points per contest and 2.5 assists per game. Skinner is ranked eighth nationally in steals per contest (2.5) while the Patriots rank fifth overall. William Tolefree (Stone Mountain, Ga.) will lead a strong front line for the Patriots as he finished the year with 6.2 rebounds per game on a Patriots’ squad that ranks second in the nation with 15.7 offensive rebounds per contest. Despite not receiving a national ranking statistically, Raymon Austin (Cleveland, Ohio), who joined the team in January, has been dominating inside for the Patriots over the second half of the year. Austin is averaging 8.1 rebounds per contest while scoring 15.2 points per night. “Raymon has been a difference maker for us inside” says Burton. “He gives us another piece to the puzzle that just makes us stronger.”

The Patriots can be seen live through the NAIA broadcast center for a small fee by following: http://www.naia.org/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=27900&ATCLID=205423235. If the Patriots are able to overcome the Lion’s attack, they will play in the second round of action Friday, March 21st at 9:45 AM. For more information and complete tournament coverage, follow us on twitter at @goscpatriots or visit goscpatriots.com.
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