Fourth-seeded Blue Lights College dropped a 97-88 decision to the top-seeded Apprentice School in the New South Athletic Conference tournament semifinals, eliminating the Thoroughbreds from title contention and ending their season one game short of their first conference championship.
BLC (9-7) played the Builders (19-7) tough for all 40 minutes, holding various leads throughout the game. The Herd protected the paint and dared the Builders to beat them from the perimeter. Apprentice answered with eight three-pointers in the first half, accounting for half of their field goals and lead 48-44 over the Thoroughbreds at the halftime break.
Apprentice's lead fizzled away, thanks to a 7-0 run to start the second half. BLC's lead grew to as many as seven with 13:49 left but Apprentice fought back to take a 74-73 lead with just under 10 minutes to play. The Herd lead 78-76 with eight minutes left, but the NSAC regular-season champion Builders responded with solid defense, holding BLC scoreless for the next three minutes. With 4:15 to go, Apprentice mounted a 93-80 advantage that ended up being too much for the Thoroughbreds to withstand down the stretch.
NSAC MVP Shawn Eley of Apprentice led all scorers with 35 points, recording a double-double paired with 15 rebounds and made 11-of-12 free throws. The Builders made 15 threes altogether and scored 21 points off BLC turnovers.
All-NSAC first team forward Wol Yak led the Thorougbreds with 24 points, nine rebounds, shooting 50% from the field and three-point range (3-of-6). All-NSAC second teamers Sam Benton, jr. and Keyshawn Bryant scored 22 and 19 points, respectively. Freshman guard Miigwaanhs Barrientoz added 14 points and four treys. Malek Ngong tied with Apprentice's Eley with 15 rebounds before fouling out midway through the second half. Freshman forward Randy Freeman (personal) returned to the BLC roster on Saturday, scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds.
Apprentice will play the winner of Virginia Peninsula Community College vs. Mid-Atlantic Christian University for the NSAC championship on Sunday.