Sunday, March 23, 2008

KU signee shines in final contest

Little leads Chipola (Fla.) to 7th place at NJCAA tournament


— Mario Little was not about to finish his career at Chipola (Fla.) College with a mediocre performance in the seventh-place game of the NJCAA Men's Division I National Championship on Saturday.

After collecting three fouls in the first half, it looked as though Little would have to be cautious not to foul out.

But in the second half of Chipola's 84-66 victory over Paris (Texas) Junior College, Little showed why he is the No. 1-ranked juco player by

The Kansas University signee scored 18 of his game-high 21 points, pulled down five rebounds, collected four of his six assists - also a game-high - and had four steals.

"It was pretty emotional," Little said of his final game in a Chipola jersey. "I wanted to come out and play well. I started out a little sluggish, but then at the end it all went pretty well. It was my last game. I couldn't just go out with three points. I wanted to finish well on the offensive end and have fun with my teammates."

The Kansas recruit shot 8-of-10 in the second half and scored his last 11 points in the final nine minutes.

"Any time Little and (Gary) Flowers get it going, we're never going to get beat," Chipola coach Greg Heiar said. "And they definitely had it going today."

Flowers, a 6-8 forward who initially committed to Oklahoma State, scored 14 points, with 11 of them coming in the second half.

Paris actually came out quick in the game, holding an 11-4 lead just four minutes in.

However, with two minutes left in the half and Paris down by two, Chipola point guard Clevin Hannah, who signed to play at Wichita State next year, hit back-to-back three-pointers to spark an 8-1 run to close out the half.

"He looked me in the eyes and asked, 'Are you done with me?'" said Heiar of Hannah, who had two personal fouls at the time. "I'm playing Gary with two fouls, I had put Mario in with two fouls, and so I thought, 'I got to go with Clevin, too.' So he went out there and once he hit that first one, I was like, 'Oh, here comes another one.' Because once he hits one he hits two, three, four or five. We've seen him hit 12 in a row before, so that was just great for Clevin."

The victory marked the first time Chipola ever has left the national tournament with a win in its final game.


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