QUINCY -- The wayward shots, unfortunate bounces and hard caroms off the rim could have created as much doubt as they did drought.
Chandler Bevans refused to allow that.
"Honestly, I never had the thought we were going to lose," said Bevans, a sophomore forward on the John Wood Community College men's basketball team. "I was confident in us, in our game plan, in what we were doing. I never had that thought go through my head."
Not until reality hit home.
With less than three minutes remaining in regulation Sunday in the championship game of the Region 24 tournament and Parkland leading by 14, Bevans fouled out. He walked slowly to the sideline, embraced JWCC coach Brad Hoyt and every person sharing the sideline. He then watched the final moments of his junior college career tick away.
The Cobras' blistering shooting in the second half coupled with the Trail Blazers' off-kilter moments staved off a rally and led to Parkland's 76-58 victory and a berth in the NJCAA Division II national tournament beginning March 17 in Danville, Ill.
John Wood (17-15) was attempting to defend its region crown and reach the national tournament for the fourth time in seven seasons, but the offensive woes from start to finish wouldn't allow it.
"Not our day," Bevans said.
Not in the least.
The Cobras (23-7) led 12-0 before Trail Blazers guard Ja'Veon Taylor buried a 3-pointer from the right wing with 15:40 remaining in the first half. JWCC started 1 of 12 from the field and didn't make its second field goal until 12:57 remained.
Down 15-6 at that point, the Trail Blazers didn't let the deficit grow too big -- it reached 14 points on two separate occasions -- before stringing quality possessions together. Bevans scored on three straight possessions, twice in the post and twice on free throws, as part of an 8-2 run to close the first half.
Suddenly, a 34-26 deficit didn't seem so daunting.
"We did what this team does," Hoyt said. "They just sort of hung in there. Our guys have some fight to them. Our program has some fight to it. And that was good to see."
After shooting 25.7 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from 3-point range in the first half, the Trail Blazers had to show some resiliency.
It came in the form of a 7-0 blitz to start the second half which made it a one-point game. The Trail Blazers had two chances to take the lead and failed on both.
Carter Jeffries made them pay for that. He hit a running jumper going down the lane and followed it with a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the Cobras pushed the advantage back to two possessions in a blink.
"He can score the ball a little bit," Parkland coach Anthony Figueroa said. "We needed every bit of it. John Wood made a run like we knew they would. We didn't have much of answer for it at first, but luckily we were able to get Carter to spots where his teammates looked for him and he knocked some down."
Jeffries went 6 of 13 from 3-point range and scored a game-high 31 points.
"We ran into a really good player today," Hoyt said. "You tip the hat to them. They were prepared. Their guys hits shots when they needed to. It just wasn't our day."
And when Jeffries hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 10:35 remaining for a 56-42 lead, he essentially called game.
"They just hit some daggers," Hoyt said.
JWCC struggled to his anything. The Trail Blazers shot 31.3 percent from the field overall and 16.7 percent from 3-point range, going 4 of 24. Bevans led the Trail Blazers with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Aaron Shoot and Jarvis Jennings had 12 points apiece.
"It sucks," Bevans said. "I wish I could play for (Hoyt) another two years. This isn't how we wanted it to end."