Men's College Basketball

McKinney makes 'huge tide-turning shots' for Trail Blazers

John Wood Community College freshman guard Ragar McKinney, left, and freshman forward Jarvis Jennings celebrate after Jennings scored while being fouled during the second half of Saturday’s Region 24 tournzament game as JWCC coach Brad Hoyt, right, applauds the effort. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 8, 2020 12:40 am Updated: Mar. 8, 2020 12:47 am

QUINCY -- The minutes he plays -- be it four or 40 -- never bother Ragar McKinney.

Being prepared for those minutes matter most.

"It's all part of the process," said McKinney, a freshman guard on the John Wood Community College men's basketball team. "We're a team, and whatever we need to do to win, that's what we need to do."

During the Trail Blazers' five-game win streak to close the regular season, McKinney saw his minutes dwindle to less than 10 in each of the final three games.

His effort didn't nosedive with them.

"When your minutes aren't every consistent, you have to prepare like they are consistent," JWCC coach Brad Hoyt said. "He's prepared. He's in here extra and he's in here more and he's always prepared when that time comes."

His time came Saturday, and McKinney delivered.

With JWCC trailing Rend Lake 41-37 and 10:40 remaining in regulation of the Region 24 tournament semifinal at the Student Activity Center, McKinney bookended a six-possession stretch with 3-pointers that tied the game at 46. He added another 3-pointer 3:12 to play that gave the Trail Blazers a nine-point lead.

McKinney finished 4 of 6 from 3-point range with 12 points, one shy of his career high, as the top-seeded Trail Blazers advanced to the championship game of the Region 24 tournament with a 69-62 victory over fifth-seeded Rend Lake.

"Ragar had a huge game. I can't say that enough," JWCC point guard Aaron Shoot said. "He's been struggling to make shots in practice. It just goes to show how tough he is. He made some shots. They were all big shots, huge tide-turning shots."

That's what the Palmyra product is supposed to do.

"When we play him, it comes with the expectation that he has the ability to make shots," Hoyt said. "I'm just so happy for him that he had the chance to do that."

McKinney made just 3 of 10 3-pointers in the final five games of the regular season and hadn't made three or more in a game since going 3 of 6 against Southeastern Community College on January 8.

"He's gone through the ups and downs of a freshman shooter, and freshman shooters always go through ups and downs," Hoyt said. "And he has, for goodness sakes. I'm happy for him that he had a couple drop, big ones, in moments that matter. He's capable of that."