Box Score | Photo GalleryKATY, Texas – Northwestern State’s late-season run will earn them at least one more game.All-Southland Conference second-teamer Chudier Bile scored 17 points as his efforts off the bench carried the fifth-seed Demons to a 79-62 win over eighth-seed Texas A&M Corpus-Christi in the opening game of the 2020 Hercules Tires Southland Conference men’s basketball tournament on Wednesday evening. Having climbed the first of three rungs to reach Saturday night’s championship game, Northwestern State (15-15) will play fourth-seed Sam Houston State Thursday at 5:00 p.m. CT.Bile, a redshirt junior transfer from Bradley, sparked a Demons bench that tallied 35 points while also chipping in six rebounds, four steals, two assists and one blocked shot as Northwestern State overcame an early 14-point deficit and held A&M-Corpus Christi to just 34.8 percent shooting in the second half.“We take pride in our defense,” said Bile. “We came slow because we had a lot of nerves, but once we settled in, we got back to what we were good at.”Making their first appearance in the conference tournament since the 2014-15 season, the Demons also got 17 points from Jairus Roberson and 13 points off the bench from Brian White.The Islanders (14-18) sought an early knockout, jumping to a 10-0 lead that was capped by Myles Smith’s 3-pointer at the 17:26 mark of the first half. The early spurt served as a wake-up call for Northwestern State, who responded with a 10-2 run to trim the margin to 12-10 on Bile’s jumper with 13:34 remaining.“They kind of caught us on our heels,” said Demons coach Mike McConathy, whose team has won seven of their last 10 games. “But instead of getting frustrated, it seemed like we pulled together as a team. Of course, it helps to make a few shots.”A&M-CC then took its turn to spurt, hitting the Demons with a 7-0 run to regain a 10-point edge and expanded the lead to 29-15 on another triple from Smith with 8:31 left. It would be the high-water mark for the Islanders, as Northwestern State’s long-range game began to find its mark.Bile connected on a pair of treys during a 16-1 run that gave Northwestern State its first lead of the game at 31-30 with 3:48 left before intermission. The basket enabled the Demons to continue their offensive proficiency as they added an 11-0 run to expand their lead to 41-30 before a pair of Islanders 3-pointers cut the deficit to 41-36 at the half.“We let some bunnies that we missed affect what we did,” said Islanders coach Willis Wilson. “It was just one of those nights where the shots didn’t fall the way they were falling. We were shooting at a pretty hot clip the last 2-3 weeks or so, but tonight, they just didn’t fall.”Northwestern State continued to punish the Islanders with treys, with Roberson hitting a pair that helped the Demons come out of the second half gate with a 53-39 lead with 16:07 left. A dunk from Larry Owens swelled the Northwestern State lead to 57-40.With their season on the line, the Islanders rediscovered their offensive stroke, embarking on an 11-2 run to cut the gap to 59-51, but C.J. Jones’ conventional 3-point play helped stem the A&M-CC tide with 9:34 remaining.Turnovers also hurt the Islanders, as they committed 18 on the evening. The miscues helped Northwestern State trigger its fast break, resulting in the Demons producing 17 points from it. The Islanders were also unable to establish themselves in the paint, finishing with only 14 points.“When they adjusted to us getting the ball in the post so frequently, it slowed down our offense,” said A&M-CC’s Elijah Schmidt.
Last year’s defending champions, both boys and girls, are notably missing from the nationals this year. St. Anthony High School (boys) and Moi Girls Nangili (Girls) were knocked out during the preliminary matches of their regional games held last month in Rift Valley and Western Region respectively.The 2016 girls’ champions Wiyeta Girls (Rift Valley Region) will be seeking to stamp their dominance in the girl’s category after being defeated in the finals last year against the eventual champions Moi Girls Nangili.The Rift Valley heavyweights have been pooled in group A alongside Dagoretti Mixed Secondary School (Nairobi Region), Njabini Girls (Central Region) and Ugari Mixed (Nyanza Region).In group B, the third runners up in last year’s championship, Coastal region champions Waa Girls will be playing against Kobala Mixed (Nyanza Region), Maeni Girls (Western Region) and Itaara Secondary School (Eastern Region).In the boys category, in Pool A, Goseta Boys (Rift Valley Region), will be battling it out against Koyonzo Secondary School (Western Region), Serani Secondary School (Coastal region) and Gatamaiyu High School (Central Region).-Dagoretti High seek titleIn Pool B, Dagoretti High School from Nairobi region will be seeking to win this years’ tournament after an impressive performance in the regional championships.They have been pooled against Agoro Sare Secondary School (Nyanza Region), Machakos Boys High School (Eastern Region) and a representative from the North Eastern Region.During this year’s tournament, The Coca-Cola System in Kenya embarked on an environmental behavior change campaign. One school in every region (former provinces) pitches are set to be revamped with the winner being determined by the school that achieves the highest number of kilos.The national games are a culmination of the Under-16 boys’ and girls’ tournament. A total of 5,400 schools registered and participated for a chance to be inaugurated as the national champions and a direct ticket to the COPA Coca-Cola Africa Cup.The North Eastern Regional Finals will be held at Takaba Secondary School in Mandera from 24th to 26th July 2019. The winning team will then proceed to Kisumu to battle it out for the national title.Nyanza region as the hosts, will be represented by two girl’s teams since North Eastern region will not be fielding a girls’ team.0Shares0000(Visited 17 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Subunly captain Feisal Abdi vies for the ball against a St Peters Mumias High school opponent during their Copa Cocacola Under-16 School Games Championship at the Hill School in Eldoret on Tuesday July 24, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluNAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – The 2019 Under-16 COPA Coca-Cola Nationals will be staged at the Kisumu National Polytechnic next week with the winning teams representing Kenya in the second edition of the COPA Coca-Cola Africa to be held later in the year.A total of 32 teams will battle it out for the title in the Lakeside city from July 30- August 3.