There is a reason why David Sloan is an All-American for the John A. Logan College men's basketball team and it has more to do than the Power 5 college coaches in the stands that were recruiting him Tuesday night.
Sloan made more of a case for his talents as he put the Volunteers on his back -- in the second half -- and helped JALC impose its will on Southwestern Illinois College running away with an 83-72 victory in the Region 16 Tournament.
Sloan finished with 15 points -- and was one of four other Vols to finish in double figures -- as the sophomore from Louisville, Ky., made some key free throws down the stretch to help the Vols get the win.
"I think it started with us just getting down and guarding," Sloan said of Logan's defensive effort in the second half. "I think in the first five minutes we got six stops in a row so that helped us a lot. We were getting out of transition and a lot of people say it is fun to watch us in transition."
Sloan admitted to JALC head coach Kyle Smithpeters that he was upset with himself for not making more free throws. Smithpeters, a Harrisburg native and former Saluki standout, took Sloan's frustration in stride.
"He was upset with himself on missing his free throws but I told him: 'Dude, you miss them when we're up 11 and I don't care because you're going to make them when we're tied up. That's fine, I'll take that idea to the bank.' David did such a good job at getting us where needed to be and spread the ball out. Honestly, it was the difference in two point guards when it came down to it. Ours was really really good down the stretch and that's what guided us to a win."
Logan found themselves down 39-38 at halftime and trailed 45-40 at the start of the second half after back-to-back 3-pointers from SWIC, but the Vols (27-4) tied the game at 49 and then Sloan went to work.
His free throws, coupled with a Vonnie Patterson bucket and a Jonah Jackson three ball capped off an 11-2 run by JALC, who never looked back, taking a 60-51 lead with 7:00 to play.
Like most postseason tournaments, the "win or go home" mentality comes into play. For Smithpeters, he was just happy to survive and advance.
"We have half a team who has been through this and half that hasn't. You never know how that oil and vinegar is going to mix. Obviously it didn't mix very well. I'm proud of the fact that they were able to push forward there pose their will down the stretch when they needed to.
"The biggest thing was just the stops," Smithpeters said of his defense who put the clamps down midway through the second half. "I think we did a great job of getting stops when we needed them. When you can get stops, you can really afford to have some bad possessions."
Jay Scrubb, who played the entire game in foul trouble, had a team-high 18 points. Jackson also had 15 points, while Vonnie Patterson tacked on 13 points and Quamain Nelson tossed in 12 points.
Chris Harris scored seven points for Logan, while Mark Lancaster had a first-half 3-pointer.
SWIC got a pair of 19-point performances from Destan Williams and Javonte Perkins.
Logan returns to the tournament tonight (Wednesday) where they will take on Wabash Valley in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Wabash Valley had to erase a 16-point deficit Tuesday to beat Lincoln Trail on a 3-pointer as time expired for the win.
Also on Wednesday night, top seed Vincennes takes on Kaskaskia at 5 p.m.