The final buzzer sounded as Ricky Bower's final shot hung in the air, and then it dropped through the net giving Ricks College a 66-64 victory over Dixie College in the championship game of the SWAC tournament at Ricks' Hart Fieldhouse.
Dixie had the ball with 22 seconds left but hoisted a trey from at least NBA distance and left the Vikings enough time to get a last crack at it.Bower snagged the ball, dribbled the length of the court and hoisted the game-winner from the top of the key despite having hit only one of his seven shots to that point.
"I looked at the clock and knew I had two or three dribbles," Bower said. "It just felt natural."
The student body emptied the stands, filled the floor and hoisted Bower to its shoulders to celebrate the team's victory which will send them to Hutchinson, Kansas, for the NJCAA national championship tournament.
"I don't have any idea where it (Hutchinson) is," said Vikings coach Clyde Nelson. "I have been to Kansas one time and thought I never wanted to go back, but I want to now."
The Vikings will represent Region 18, which traditionally has done very well at the tournament. Dixie and Southern Idaho have each won national junior college championships there.
The game was tight most of the way but it was the Rebels who surged to an early lead on the strength of its press.
Ricks adjusted well, scored several layups because of the press and forced Dixie to fall back.
SWAC women's tournament
RICKS COLLEGE 95, UVCC 77: The top-seeded Viking crushed second-seed Utah Valley 95-77 to capture both the SWAC regular-season and the tournament crowns as well as a trip to Salina, Kansas, for the NJCAA tournament.
Susan Hanchett scored 24 for the Vikings, while Kaly Gillette added 22. Ricks' Cady Williams was named tournament MVP.