NEWS-SUN PHOTO Damontrez Hawes attempts a layup during a home game earlier this year. Hawes was one of four T-Birds to score in double figures Saturday night in a win over Midland.
The New Mexico Junior College men's basketball team came out Saturday and then hung on to beat Midland College 77-76 on the final day of the Thanksgiving Classic at Caster Activity Center.
The Thunderbirds controlled the game in the first half, building up a 15-point lead before going into the break leading by nine. Things fell a part for a stretch in the second half as Midland outscored the T-Birds 41-33, but NMJC was able to hold on.
DeAnthony Owens got the T-Birds going, scoring the first points of the game on a trey 36 seconds into the game Midland quickly tied the game, but NMJC answered back with two more treys to establish an early lead. With 14:24 left in the first half, the Chaparrals once again tied the game, but it didn't stay tied long as Franklyn Penn Jr. hit a NMJC's fifth straight three-pointer to retake the lead 17 seconds later.
Penn Jr.'s trey was the start of a 10-0 run for NMJC. The T-Birds got their first two-point basket of the game with 11:24 left in the first. They sank their first free throws with 10:59 left in the first.
With one minute left in the opening half, NMJC pushed its lead 44-29, the largest lead of the game. However, Midland battled back in the final 60 seconds, hitting a pair of treys to cut the Thunderbirds' lead to nine points, 44-35, heading into the break.
Midland knotted the game up at 54-54 on a free throw and then took its first lead, 55-54, of the game on another free throw with 12:52 left in the game. The Chaparrals extended their lead over NMJC to 60-54 with 11:27 left, but the T-Birds didn't back down. Over the next two minutes, NMJC came surging back with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 60-60 on a trey by Owens.
With 6:30 left in the game, NMJC retook the lead at 63-62 on a Hunter Ladler free throw. The T-Birds would hold the lead the rest of the way.
The T-Birds had four players finish the game with double figure scoring. Marcell Haskett led NMJC with 24 points. Damontrez Hawes had 15 and Owens chipped in 11. Paul Williams had 10 points off the bench.
Midland's Amari Hale led all scorers with 25 points.
With the win, NMJC has now won four straight and improves to 8-2 on the season. Next up for the T-Birds is a road trip to Big Spring, Texas to open Western Junior College Athletic Conference play against Howard College.
1 2 F Midland 35 41 76 NMJC 44 33 77
NMJC at Howard College Wednesday, 7 p.m. (CST)