Dondre Griffin came off the bench and provided a season-high 23 points as Navarro opened Region XIV men’s basketball conference play Wednesday with a 69-60 win over the 16th-ranked San Jacinto Ravens here at The Wolens Center.
Coach Michael Landers’ Bulldogs (8-1) hit the floor running, building as much as an 18-point lead within the first eight minutes of the game. Though challenged twice down the stretch when San Jacinto pulled within three points, the Bulldogs never flinched and recorded an important crossover win against a team selected by the coaches to finish atop the South Zone.
Griffin sank 8-of-13 shots, including 5-of-9 beyond the three-point line. The Raleigh, NC, sophomore, with help from guard Kahssian Kay, ignited a runaway start and propelled Navarro into a 26-8 lead with left corner three-pointers on consecutive trips.
Then, Griffin surfaced at crunch time after the Ravens cut a 12-point Bulldog lead (60-48) with a nine-point run that featured seven free-throws. Griffin hit both ends of a one-and-one for a 64-57 lead with 4:13 to go, and capitalized with a layup at 2:21 on another trip to give NC breathing room (66-57).
Kay, who finished with seven points, a team-high six assists, two steals and cleared five rebounds, was the trigger for Navarro’s quick start.
Another key factor in Navarro’s win was its relentless play underneath, outbattling the Ravens’ inside personnel for rebounds. The shorter NC squad cleared 40 boards (30 defensive), behind the work of Emmanuel Egbuta, Kelvon Fuller and Keion Epps. The three combined for 23 points, 27 boards, seven steals and eight blocked shots.
Egbuta led NC rebounders with 13 boards; Fuller (10 points and eight caroms) swatted away five San Jacinto shots as the Ravens were held 22 points below their season scoring average.
Navarro won its sixth game in the last seven meetings with the Ravens here at The Wolens Center. Landers improved his all-time coaching mark against the Ravens to 4-1.
The Bulldogs travel Saturday to Beeville for a 4 pm Region XIV matchup with the Coastal Bend Cougars at Peter S. Marecek Physical Fitness Center.
SAN JACINTO 30 30 — 60
NAVARRO 42 27 — 69
SAN JACINTO (60): Hardy 14, Hamrick 11, Mading 10, Tschisumpa Mbiya 9, Grant 4, Lee 4, Henry 3, Sneed 2, Adderley 1. TOTALS: 14-7-(9-17)-60.
NAVARRO (69): Griffin 23, Keeling 12, Fuller 10, Egbuta 9, Kay 7, Epps 4, Pulliam 4. TOTALS: (26-60)-(7-19)-(10-21)-69.
WEDNESDAY’S REGION XIV OPENERS
Navarro 69, San Jacinto 60
TVCC 86, Coastal Bend 76
Kilgore 86, Angelina 52
Bossier Parish 104, Jacksonville 97
Tyler 83, Lamar State-Port Arthur 63
Blinn 73, Panola 71
Paris 80, Lee 56