Freshmen Ryan Schmitt of Van Meter and John Herrick of Boone combined for 37 points and led the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) men's basketball team to an 83-68 win over Iowa Lakes Community College (ILCC) in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XI Division II Men's Basketball Championship semifinals March 6 inside the DMACC gymnasium.
Schmitt scored 20 points and grabbed five rebounds and Herrick came off the bench to scored 17 points, grab five rebounds and block two shots as the Bears, ranked fifth in the NJCAA Division II poll, improved to 28-4 and advanced to the Region XI championship game for the first time since 2015. DMACC will face North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) at 3 p.m. March 7 inside the DMACC gymnasium.
NIACC, ranked 12th nationally and the tournament's No. 4 seed, upset top-seeded Kirkwood Community College (KCC), 76-74, in the region's other semifinal matchup March 5.
DMACC, seeded second, picked up its second win in three games against ILCC, the No. 3 seed and ranked 10th nationally, this season. The Bears got 15 points and three assists from sophomore Zach Lester of Clear Lake and freshman Willie Guy of Cedar Rapids added 13 points, six assists and four steals.
DMACC led 37-25 at halftime and maintained its advantage throughout the second half. The Bears led by as many as 17 points twice in the last 20 minutes and their lead was never less than 10 points.
DMACC shot 51 percent, connecting on 26 of 51 field goal attempts. The Bears were 5-of-14 from three-point range and 26-of-37 from the free throw line. Herrick made eight of his nine field goal attempts, including one three-pointer, and Lester was 6-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Sophomore Ty Majlik-Autry of St. Petersburg, Fla., joined Schmitt and Herrick with five rebounds as ILCC came away with a 41-35 advantage on the boards. Sophomores Barlow Alleruzzo of Chicago, Ill., and Demarion Bariffe-Smith of Skokie, Ill., each had four rebounds.
The Region XI championship game will give DMACC an opportunity to beat a ranked team three times in one season. The Trojans were fourth and DMACC was fifth when the Bears came away with a 107-63 win Jan. 11 inside the DMACC gymnasium. NIACC was 12th and DMACC was fifth in a Feb. 1 matchup won by DMACC, 77-69, at Mason City.
DMACC takes a seven-game winning streak into the March 7 game. NIACC is 25-6 and has won its last four games.
The Region XI champion advances to the NJCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship March 17 to 21 at Danville, Ill. DMACC's last Region XI championship game in 2015 when the Bears went on to finish fourth in the national tournament