Charlotte, NC - Top seeded Johnson & Wales and fourth seeded Apprentice provided the fans in attendance with an absolute thriller of a semi-final matchup to kick off the men's portion of the 2019 Eastern Metro Athletic Conference Postseason Tournament. The two teams battled back and forth for much of the second half before Johnson & Wales converted a pair of free throws with 3 seconds left to grab an 83-81 victory.
Apprentice sprinted out to a 13-3 lead behind three 3 point baskets, and held a double-digit advantage on the scoreboard for the first 13 minutes of the half. The Wildcats worked to narrow the gap, paced by Zyrion Wilkins's 13 first half points off the bench. JWU pulled even with 1:21 left in the period, and then took their first lead of the game on Robert Hobson's three pointer forty seconds later. That capped off a 19-5 run and gave JWU a 38-35 lead at the break.
It was the Builders' turn to go on a run as the second half started. Their 15-7 spurt over the half's first six minutes staked them to a 50-45 advantage on the scoreboard. The lead changed hands half a dozen times over the next six minutes before the Wildcats seemed to gain some breathing room after a Wilkins layup pushed their lead to six at 73-67. Apprentice immediately responded with 7 straight points over the next minute to claw ahead once again. The teams continued to trade the lead back and forth until just a few seconds remained. The Builders' Drew Walton converted 1 of 2 free throws with 12 seconds left to tie the score at 81. JWU got the ball inside to Jackson Baylark, was fouled, but made both free throws. Corey Joyner got a great look at a three pointer from about 30 feet that hit the back iron before falling off, sealing the win for Johnson & Wales.
Hobson led all scorers in the game with 28 points. He also added 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Wilkins tallied 21 points and 8 rebounds, while Kajuan Madden-McAfee had a solid all-around performance with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
The Wildcats advance to Saturday's championship game where they will play the #3 seed, Clinton College, who upset 2nd seeded Stratford in the other semi-final. Tip time is 3:30pm.