Updated Sun, Dec 22, 2013 11:15 am
The Rio Grande men’s basketball team has one more game left on its slate before leaving the Sunshine State to travel north for the holidays. First and foremost, the RedStorm must get past the Southeastern Fire, an opponent that is all too familiar with the smooth sand and high temperatures of Florida.
Rio Grande and Southeastern will face off against each other on the hardwood in the second day of the Jackson Hewitt Holiday Classic on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the CFE Federal Credit Union Arena in Orlando, Fla.
Rio Grande (7-4) fell 86-58 in an exhibition match to NCAA Division I opponent, Central Florida, in its opening game of the Holiday Classic on Saturday afternoon.
The RedStorm trailed the Knights 41-32 at halftime but cut the host’s edge to five points early in the second half. UCF head coach Donnie Jones inserted three reserve guards – Isaac Lang, Matt Wiliams, and Daiquan Walker – into the lineup and the group sparked a 20-5 run that allowed UCF to roll onto a convincing victory.
Josh Reagan, a transfer student from Cuyahoga Community College, saw his first playing time of the season for Rio Grande on Saturday afternoon after gaining his eligibility from the NAIA on Friday. The junior forward made an immediate impact early on in his young RedStorm career by netting 19 points in his first game in a RedStorm uniform. Phillip Hertz added 10 points and 10 rebounds in the losing cause.
Southeastern (9-2) started the 2013-14 season with six straight wins but have since lost 91-81 to Southern Oregon in late November and recently fell 91-71 to St. Thomas last Monday night. The Fire reignited their spark and responded last Wednesday night with a 96-89 victory over Milligan College. Timothy Mitchell had a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds in the win and was one of six Fire players in double figures. Jordan Talley and Deshawn Wilcox added 16 and 14 points in the victory, while Amir Royal and Dana Thomas added 13 and 12 points. Jake Hodges contributed 11 points to the winning effort.
At 21 points a game, Dwayne Johnson leads the Fire in scoring while Mitchell leads the team with nearly 12.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.
Sophomore forward Phillip Hertz leads the way for the RedStorm with 15.4 points a game and is shooting nearly 52 percent from the field. Senior guard Jermaine Warmack highlights the RedStorm roster averaging 4 assists and 2.8 steals a game.
Freshman forward Bilal Young is averaging 11.7 points a game and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. Southeastern is averaging 91.18 points per game while Rio Grande is only averaging 81.82.
Tipoff for Sunday’s game is set for 5 p.m.