Jarvis Christian College Bulldogs v Paul Quinn College Tigers

National Association Intercollegiate Athletics

Red River Athletic Conference

Saturday 28th January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

Jarvis Christian College Bulldogs 93 Paul Quinn College Tigers 69,  attendance 210

@ E.W. Rand Center

Private Road 7630, off Jarvis Boulevard

Hawkins, TX, 75765

No admission or programme.

The 90 mile drive south from Paris was pretty straightforward, despite it being all single carriageway and the Camaro knocked 10 minutes off the estimated arrival time on the SatNav without breaking sweat. What I thought was 13 minutes to spare turned out to be 28, as once again the late finish of the women’s game caused our game to start late.

As stated at last weeks game involving Paul Quinn College, although they compete in the Red River Athletic Conference, their matches do not count towards the standings for the end of season play offs.

Bulldogs dominated from the start and led 37-26 at halftime. Deon Fisher top scored for them with 20 points. Tigers only had eight players, so tired considerably late in the game as a lack of rotation opportunities cost them dearly. In fact, Jalen Johnson actually played the entire 40 minutes for them, adding eleven points to the 19 from top scoring Blake Ervin. It could have been worse as Bulldogs actually had a lead of 29 at one stage.

Paris Junior College Dragons v Kilgore College Rangers

National Junior College Athletic Association

Division I

Region 14 Conference

Saturday 28th January 2017

Tip Off 16.00

Paris Junior College Dragons 68 Kilgore College Rangers 52,  attendance 225

@ Harold E. Hunt Center

South Collegiate Drive

Paris, TX 75460

$4 Admission

Programme free, 4 pages.

It was 32-31 at halftime, but with Kilgore only managing a pathetic 21 points in the second half, it was comfortable for Paris, with Abrian Edwards, Jordan Embry, Reggie Tharp and Darius Williams all into double figure points for them. Top scorer for Kilgore was Cheikh Diallo with 16 points.

Despite starting 10 minutes late, as, just for a change, the women’s game had overrun, it was all over by 5.40pm, which gave me a little bit of leaway to head south for a second game of the day.

East Central University Tigers v University Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils

National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II

Great American Conference

Thursday 26th January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

East Central University Tigers 100 University Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils 98,  attendance 724

@ Kerr Activities Center

1100, East 14th Street

Ada, OK 74820

$8 Admission

$1 Programme, 8 pages, double issue including Saturday 28th January.

This was 2nd v 1st in the Great American Conference, with the visitors ranked Number 18 nationally.

Tigers were led by Braxton  Reeves who scored 32 points and four assists. The Boll Weevils looked to be well in control, going up 2-13 early on, but Tigers had levelled it up to go in all square at halftime 52-52.

Tigers edged ahead and held the lead until the Boll Weevils tied it up at 91-91 with 3 minutes 45 seconds to play. Tigers ahead again by 96-91, but the lead cut back to 98-96 with a minute to play. Reeves then scored two crucial free throws with 7.8 seconds left, before the visitors scored again with the last shot of the match.

Cedar Valley College Suns v Eastfield College Harvesters

National Junior College Athletic Association

Division III

Region 5

Metro Athletic Conference

Wednesday 25th January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

Cedar Valley College Suns 94 Eastfield College Harvesters 109,  attendance 83

@ 3030, North Dallas Avenue

Lancaster, TX 75134

No admission or programme.

Cedar Valley were no match for Number 4 ranked Eastfield, despite 25 points from Eric Stewart and 23 points from JF Thomas Jr. as well as an impressive 20 rebounds. Eastfield had two players who combined for 60 points, according to the final scoreboard, although I have no idea who they were as no details have been posted by either the NJCAA website or that of Eastfield themselves.

Kilgore College Rangers v Blinn College Buccaneers

National Junior College Athletic Association

Division I

Region 14 Conference

Monday 23rd January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

Kilgore College Rangers 68 Blinn College Buccaneers 70,  attendance 180

@ Masters Gymnasium

1100, Broadway Boulevard

Kilgore, TX 75662

$5 Admission

Programme free, 4 pages.

This one was always going to be close. Both teams had a record for the season of 11-6, with conference games being 2-5. It was 33-33 at halftime and at no time in the game was there a greater margin than 5 points. With 3.2 seconds left It was 68-69 and Blinn were at the free throw line. After successfully getting the first throw a timeout was called. The second throw was then missed, but despite Kilgore getting the rebound, the pass was thrown out of bounds and that was it.

There was certainly an International feel to the Kilgore squad. One from England, one from France and three from Senegal. The latter supplied their undoubted star of the show, 6′ 10″ forward Ndene Gueye. He put in an excellent display and certainly didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side. 30 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks are great figures at any level. James Harrison top scored for the visitors with 16 points.

Paul Quinn College Tigers v Langston University Lions

National Association Intercollegiate Athletics

Red River Athletic Conference

Saturday 21st January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

Paul Quinn College Tigers 71 Langston University Lions 76,  attendance 300

@ 3837, Simpson Stuart Street

Dallas, TX 75241

$5 Admission

Team Sheet free, printed double sided.

It was an easy 59 mile drive from this afternoons match and being such a small detour from my route home made it a perfect double.

Again, a close match and not decided until the last few seconds, with the game tied three times and the lead changed six times. Langston, from Oklahoma, are fourth in the RRAC table, whilst Paul Quinn are not eligible for the postseason play offs, but do play all the fixtures as if they were. Jalen Johnson top scored for PQC with 20 points, the visitors led by Myles Eglin with 16 points.

The first thing to be said about this venue is what a great atmosphere it generates. Singing, chanting and dancing in the aisles was non stop, with a group of around 20-30 being very well versed in their routines. They would certainly give the cheerleaders a run for their money at most venues, although here they added to the entertainment from the official dancers at courtside.

Hill College Rebels v McLennan Community College Highlanders

National Junior College Athletic Association

Division I

Region 5 Conference

Saturday 21st January 2017

Tip Off 16.00

Hill College Rebels 74 McLennan Community College Highlanders 78,  attendance 200

@ Bob Bullock Sports Center

112, Lamar Drive

Hillsboro, TX 76645

$4 Admission

No programme.

Having been here just two weeks ago, when I arrived to find the game had been postponed, I could see no reason for the game not to go ahead this time, especially as the visitors were only coming 34 miles north from Waco, so there would certainly be no transport issues.

McLennan came into this one with a 100% record, having won all 21 games they have played this season, including their opening two conference matches, and continued in the same manor. Isaiah Gurley led the way for the visitors  with 25 points, with Davison Turner getting 18 points for the hosts.

The game was over by 5.45pm so plenty of time to get to my second game of the day, which was just a 4 mile detour on the way home.

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors

National Basketball Association

Friday 20th January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

Houston Rockets 108 Golden State Warriors 125,  attendance 18,055

Rockets Starters ;

Trevor Arizona, 12 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast

Ryan Anderson, 0 pts, 1 reb

Montrezl Harrell, 8 pts, 3 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Patrick Beverley, 13 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl

James Harden, 17 pts, 7 reb, 11 ast, 1 stl

Playing Reserves ;

Sam Dekker, Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, Corey Brewer, KJ McDaniels, Tyler Ennis, Bobby Brown

Warriors Starters ;

Kevin Durant, 32 pts, 4 reb, 7 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk

Draymond Green, 15 pts, 8 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl, 3 blk

Zaza Pachulia, 10 pts, 9 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl

Klay Thompson, 16 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl

Stephen Curry, 24 pts, 1 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl

Playing Reserves ;

Andre Iguodala, James Michael McAdoo, Ian Clark, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Looney, Patrick McCaw

@ Toyota Center

1510, Polk Street

Houston, TX 77002

Admission $164.97 + $37.34 fees, Resale, Electronic Ticket via Mobile Phone

Team/Information Sheet, free.

Having stayed overnight in San Antonio, following the Spurs-Nuggets game, it left me plenty of time to drive the 197 miles east to Houston. Having arrived just after 4.30 pm, i was able to park up for $12, less than 10 minutes walk from the arena. It was a good job it wasn’t far to walk as i only just made it before a thunderstorm hit and had to shelter across the road in the Hilton Hotel. By the time the rain stopped there was not much time to look for food, although there is very little in the way of eateries in the vicinity, despite it being pretty near Downtown Houston.

I decided instead to eat in the arena, where although the prices were extortionate, the quality was decent. It also meant i was inside early enough to watch the teams warming up. I’m not sure if this is the case at all NBA games, but the Stewards here were excellent and allowed people to go right behind the baskets and see the warm ups up close, allowing you to remain here for around half an hour before moving everyone out to allow those who had paid for tickets in this section to get to their seats. There were a handful at the Rockets end of the court, but probably around 300 at the Warriors end. Of course, 99% were here to see the reigning two time MVP Stephen Curry do his now legendary warm up. When he had finished, the scrum around the players tunnel had to be seen to be believed, but fair play to him, he signed autographs and had photos taken with those who pushed hard enough to get to the front. I was quite surprised he did this before the game as he could have easily injured his hand. Zaza Pachulia also stopped and signed, but there was not quite the same buzz as he exited. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, walked out and totally ignored everyone, looking straight ahead and pretending he was listening to something in the headphones he was wearing.

I have previously avoided travelling to Houston for sports events as we may end up living here at some stage. However, a chance to see the Golden State Warriors was too good to miss, especially as the Rockets are currently ranked with the third best record in the NBA this season, behind Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Despite topping the Eastern Conference, current champions Cleveland Cavaliers would only sit in fourth place if they played in the Western Conference. They will stroll through to the Finals with little opposition, whereas the Western Division is a much tougher route.

Tonights ticket was also the most expensive i have ever bought, and despite being in the top tier, one seat offset from the halfway line, it was worth every penny. It was bought through Flash Seats and was barcoded on my mobile phone, which when scanned gives a paper print out of your ticket as you enter the arena. This worked fine for me, but this obviously isn’t always the case, as there were 6 windows allocated to ‘Flash Seats Rectification’ at the box office !

There would be three of the starters for the West Division team in the upcoming NBA All-Star game on show tonight. Curry and Durant from the Warriors and James Harden of the Rockets, who is also highly tipped to win this seasons MVP award.

Warriors were able to stifle the Rockets attacking options tonight and limited them to just 7-35 3-point attempts, something that other teams have struggled to do. Eric Gordon, who led this season with the most 3-pointers scored, failed to register any of his 7 attempts from beyond the arc. Curry, who had trailed him by two, managed to knock down 5 of his attempts and regain the current season leader spot for the Warriors. This result leaves Warriors with a 37-6 winning record for the season, with Rockets now 33-13.

The atmosphere was really good and the noise levels were off the charts each time the Rockets scored. The Toyota Center was packed to its 18,055 capacity and very few seats were empty. It has been home to the Rockets since it opened in 2003, with Toyota agreeing to pay $100 million for naming rights, which was the fourth largest deal for a sports arena in the United States at the time.

The journey back north to Dallas was interrupted by a massive thunderstorm, which meant taking shelter for a good half hour at an Exxon fuel station as it was impossible to see the road, and minutes after pulling in there were hail stones hammering down as well. There must have been at least 20 cars parked under the canopy waiting for the storm to pass. Apparently, the storm had also affected the plans of the Warriors. They had been due to fly on to Orlando after the game, where they play the Magic on Sunday lunchtime, but they were forced to stay overnight and fly out on Saturday morning instead. I completed my 248 mile drive home just before 2 am.

San Antonio Spurs v Denver Nuggets

National Basketball Association

Thursday 19th January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

San Antonio Spurs 118 Denver Nuggets 104,  attendance 18,418

Spurs Starters ;

Kawhi Leonard, 34 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 4 blk

LaMarcus Aldridge, 10 pts, 3 reb, 6 ast, 1 blk

David Lee, 10 pts, 16 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Danny Green, 5 pts, 1 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl

Dejounte Murray, 24 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl

Playing Reserves ;

Manu Ginobili, Dewayne Dedmon, Jonathon Simmons, Patty Mills, Davis Bertans

Nuggets Starters ;

Juan Hernangomez, 8 pts, 6 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Kenneth Faried, 5 pts, 9 reb, 1 ast

Nikola Jokic, 35 pts, 12 reb, 4 ast, 2 blk

Will Barton, 18 pts, 3 reb, 7 ast, 2 blk

Emmanuel Mudiay, 12 pts, 1 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl

Playing Reserves ;

Jameer Nelson, Jusuf Nurkic, Jamal Murray, Mike Miller

@ AT&T Center

1, AT&T Center Parkway

San Antonio, TX 78219

Admission $65 + $19.10 fees

No programme.

The AT&T Center was opened in October 2002, at a cost of $186 million and was originally known as the SBC Center, taking on its current sponsor name in 2006. Capacity here is 18,418, which according to tonight’s attendance figure was full, although this is nowhere near the case as there were loads of empty seats.

Spurs have reached the Play Offs in 24 out of the last 25 seasons and will easily qualify again this time round. They currently sit second in the Western Conference, behind Golden State Warriors, with a 33-9 win record. The visiting Nuggets sit in the last qualifying position of eighth.

In the end it was pretty comfortable for Spurs, although the Nuggets were never out of it, thanks mainly to a superb 35 points from Jokic. Spurs were once again led brilliantly by Kawhi Leonard, netting 34 points, who was yesterday named as a starter for the upcoming NBA All-Star game. Dejounte Murray weighed in with a season-high 24 points. Spurs are certainly a team who know how to get the job done and are very hard to beat. The only downer for them tonight was when coach Gregg Popovich was sent from the bench after entering the court to berate one of the officials after he disagreed with a decision against them. Certainly a man who shows passion for his team.

The 282 mile journey down from Dallas had taken five hours, including a stop, so i was glad that i was staying over, rather than driving straight back after the game. I had booked into a hotel that was 12-13 minutes walk from the arena, so didn’t have to worry about parking the car, although for once it wouldn’t have been too bad, as across the road from the arena, in the car park of a small office unit, it was only $10 and even on the main car parks it looked to only be $15.

Brookhaven College Bears v Eastfield College Harvesters

National Junior College Athletic Association

Division III

Region 5

Metro Athletic Conference

Wednesday 18th January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

Brookhaven College Bears 92 Eastfield College Harvesters 105,  attendance 68

@ 3939 Valley View Lane

Farmers Branch, TX 75244

No admission or programme.

Brookhaven were always on the back foot in this one and were down 45-56 at halftime. keilyn Nance top scored for them with 24 points. D’Andre Dudley scored 13 points for them from the bench.