ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) Rock Valley men's basketball punched its ticket to the national tournament thanks to a thrilling 73-70 victory over Columbus State at the Physical Education Center in Rockford on Saturday.
There were 15 lead changes and nine ties during the 40 minute dogfight. #9 Golden Eagles had the largest lead of the game when it was 11-4 (7 points) early in the first half.
RVC was paced District Two MVP Brandon Taylor, who finished with 17 points on 6/11 shooting. Rock Valley had contributions from a ton of local talent, including Lutheran grad Josh Streeter.
"It's great, I love all of them like my brothers," said Streeter. "So it's just another day to practice and do the sport we love."
The sophomore came out firing, scoring eight of his ten points in the first five minutes.
Another Rockford native coming up big for the Golden Eagles was Charles Burnell. The redshirt freshman finished the game with 16 points on 4/9 from the 3-pt. line.
"This is really special for me. I never got a school championship, so this is my second one," said Burnell. "I got the regional, now I got the district, now I'm just trying to get the national (title)."
First year head coach Tim Sandquist was visibly emotional after the tough fought win.
"I'm so proud of those guys, especially those sophomore," said Sandquist. "Those guys that have been here for two, three years, they deserve it. I couldn't be more proud. It's pretty surreal."
"We talk about it all year of getting there, and what we want to accomplish, and then to actually accomplish that, as a group, it's pretty special."
The NJCAA Division III national championship tournament will begin on Thursday, March 14 at the UCR Regional Sports Center in Rochester, MN.