HUTCHINSON, Kan. — For the third straight year, the Dixie State men's basketball team finished in the top three at the National Junior College Athletic championship tournament.
The Rebels earned 2003's third-place title Saturday by dumping Georgia Perimeter 78-69. Mike Hall had 20 points and four assists and Terren Harbut scored nine points and ripped down 10 boards as the Rebels won their final game of the year for the third straight season.
The win also kept alive an amazing streak for Dixie State. With head coach Jeff Kidder at the helm, the Rebels have never lost two games in a row. Kidder is in his sixth year at Dixie State.
"The players probably didn't need to hear this, but I told them that in six years we've never lost back-to-back games," Kidder said. "They were obviously disappointed with the loss last night (in the semifinals), but they needed to play for the program, for the pride of being a Rebel."
Harbut, the only returner from last year's National Championship team, echoed Kidder's sentiment.
"A lot of players don't get to go to the tournament at all," he said. "I feel real privileged to come to the National Tournament twice and win it once. I also hate to lose. We're sure glad we didn't break the (no consecutive losses) streak."
The Rebels led nearly the entire game. The Jaguars' only lead came with 12:25 left in the game when Roderick Trice hit a driving layup. Dixie State responded by scoring the next nine points.
Nick Hammer hit a reverse layup, Hall dunked on an alley oop, Harbut made a free throw, Hall scored again and Charles Johnson made two freebies, making it 49-41 with 8:57 to play.
Georgia Perimeter got as close as 68-64 with 1:28 left in the game, but the Rebels hit eight straight free throws in the final 1:21 and finished 28-of-32 in the game from the charity stripe.
"We were disappointed we weren't playing later (in the championship game)," Hall said. "But it was a good opportunity to finish the year with a win."
Dixie State, which finishes the year 30-6, got double-digit scoring from freshmen Mathies (17) and Steve Castleberry (11).
Southeastern Iowa won the national title by beating San Jacinto (Texas) — the team that beat Dixie on Friday night — for the national JUCO championship.