Ephraim, Utah- The Horne Activity Center was the site of a once in six-year event — the Region 18 Scenic West Athletic Conference (SWAC) basketball tournament. The six participating schools descended upon Ephraim in the hopes of being crowned Region 18 champions, and earn the right to play in the NJCAA National Championship Tournament. After three days of intense play, the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) walked away with the women’s championship, while Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) won the men’s division.
The tournament took place over the course of three days, from Thursday, Feb. 27 to Saturday, Mar. 1.
The first day of action saw one school completely eliminated. Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) played two hard fought games, but fell just short, losing to North Idaho College (NIC) in both the men’s and women’s games. The other two games saw the Snow College women’s team defeat USU-Eastern, 82-77, to move on to the second round, while the Snow men’s team fell just short, 85-79, playing hard but getting eliminated by the men from USU-E.
The second day of action saw the number one and two seeds, CSI and SLCC respectively for the men’s division, and SLCC and CSI for the women’s division take to the court for the first time in the tournament. As the two highest seeds, each team had received a first round bye.
The CSI women’s team went on to defeat NIC in the first game of the day, 76-68. The Snow College ladies team took to the court later that day to face number one seed SLCC. The Lady Badgers fought hard, even building a 10-point lead late in the second half, but fell just short, losing to the Lady Bruins by two, 67-65.
SLCC put NIC away early, leading by 14 at the half, and defeated the Cardinals in the first men’s game of the afternoon by a score of 89-72.
The final game of the evening, however, was the spotlight of the night when number one seed CSI took to the court against the fourth seeded USU-Eastern men’s team. A very hard fought and physical matchup ensued, with the teams committing a combined 37 fouls at halftime. When all was said and done, the teams had been whistled for 65 fouls during the game and shot 80 free throws. USU-Eastern made several crucial errors toward the end of the game, and lost by a score of 87-77.
On Saturday, the championship games were played between CSI and SLCC in both the men’s and the women’s brackets. CSI beat the Lady Bruins, 67-65, to take home the women’s championship and advance to the national tournament in Hutchinson, Kan. March 17-22.
In a reversal from the ladies’ game, the men of SLCC, led by tournament MVP and All-Conference First Team player, Gary Payton II, beat out CSI to win the men’s division by a score of 62-49. Different from the women’s road to the title, SLCC will host Mesa Community College this Saturday with the winner earning a berth in the Men’s National Championship Tournament in Salina, Kan., March 17-22.