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Men's College Basketball: Raiders pull off major upset at NJCAA Tournament

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ROCHESTER—Do you believe in miracles?

Led by Chris Buckley's 25 points, the eighth-seeded Central Lakes College Raiders upset the undefeated, No. 1-rated and top-seeded Suffolk County Sharks 82-68 in the NJCAA Division III National Quarterfinals Thursday, March 14, at Rochester Regional Sports Center.

"(No.) 8 versus 1 is a pretty big upset," said CLC head coach Jim Russell. "It was exciting."

After trailing 35-31 at halftime, the Raiders outscored Suffolk County 51-33 in the second half. The victory moves CLC into Friday's semifinals at 7 p.m. against fifth-seeded Rock Valley, which defeated Bunker Hill 64-56 earlier Thursday.

"I told my guys at halftime that they were beating us by doing the little things better than us," Russell said. "That's why they were 27-0. We just got in too much of a hurry and I told my guys that they just needed to settle down and play.

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Central Lakes College 82, Suffolk County 68

  • Key: Raiders outscore Sharks 51-33 in second half.
  • Overall: CLC 25-5, SC 27-0
  • Next: Central Lakes vs. Rock Valley in Championship Semifinal at Rochester 7 p.m. Friday, March 15.

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"What you do in the last 20 minutes comes with the sophomores and a lot of guys stepped up and played their roles. Malik Kelly is a sophomore and you could tell he wanted it—he did all of his scoring in the second half."

Buckley, a sophomore, tallied 15 second-half points along with freshman Tyree'on Johnson, who finished with 16. Kelly posted all 13 of his points in the second half and freshman JaQuavius Hayes came off the bench to contribute 10 points, eight coming after the intermission.

After shooting just 36 percent (10-28) from the field in the first half, the Raiders found the range netting 20 of 34 attempts for 59 percent after the intermission.

CLC finished with a 42-29 rebounding advantage. Johnson collected 14 rebounds along with four steals and four assists.

In a first half that saw seven ties and nine lead changes, the Raiders led 31-27 at 2:58, only to see Suffolk County close on an 8-0 run for a 35-31 edge at the break, their largest lead of the half.

The Sharks converted 10 CLC first-half turnovers into 15 points while the Raiders recorded seven points off five Suffolk mistakes.

Steven Tynes, who led the Sharks with 22 points, nailed a 3-pointer to open the second half for Suffolk. But then it was the Raiders turn to make a run, outscoring the Sharks 18-4, led by seven points from Kelly.

A Kelly tip at 14:54 gave CLC the lead back for good at 44-42. A layup and 3-pointer by Buckley increased the 49-42 lead with 12:50 left and the Raiders staved off every Suffolk County attempt to rally.

The Sharks closed the gap to 68-65 with 3:31 remaining before CLC closed out the upset with a 14-3 run.

Suffolk County 35 33—68

Central Lakes 31 51—82

SUFFOLK COUNTY

Jaye Bookhart 6, Steven Tynes 22, Jonathan Agostino 4, Tyree Grimsley 12, Ryan Graziano 9, Michael Picataggio 2, James Signer 3, Noah Stevensen 8. FG 26-70 (37 percent), FT 8-15 (53 percent). 3-point 6-23 (26 percent).

CENTRAL LAKES

Chris Buckley 25, Josh Arnold 9, Malik Kelly 13, Gavin Smith 6, JaQuavius Hayes 10, Vincent Burson, Kelvin Harris 1, Tyree'on Johnson 16, Brandon Burggraff 2. FG 30-62 (48 percent), FT 14-20 (70 percent). 3-point 8-19 (42 percent).