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RMAC champion FLC gets No. 2 seed for regional

Skyhawks plays Lubbock Christian in round-of-64 at West Texas A&M University on Saturday
The Fort Lewis College student body cheers on their team in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Tournament’s quarterfinals last week at FLC. After winning the tournament, FLC heads to South-Central Region as the No. 2 seed. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

After climbing one of the tallest mountains in Division II to claim a share of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference regular-season title and then capturing the RMAC Tournament championship, the Fort Lewis College men's basketball team's magical run now rides into the madness of March.

FLC received the No. 2 seed for the South-Central Regional Tournament at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. The Skyhawks head to regionals with some momentum after beating the Colorado School of Mines 82-76 on Saturday in the RMAC Tournament.

The Skyhawks (28-3 overall) are one of five teams in the country boasting a record with 28 or more wins, matching the program’ single-season record. Fort Lewis has also done what just three teams in program history have done before: capturing at least a share of the conference regular-season title alongside the conference tournament championship.

The round of 64 through the Sweet 16 will be played at First United Bank Center on the campus of No. 1 seed West Texas A&M. The Buffaloes have drawn the top seed in the region pitting them against fellow Lone Star Conference member and No. 8 seed Texas A&M University-Kingsville (21-11). Joining the Buffs on its side of the bracket are No. 4 seed Angelo State University (25-6) and No. 5 seed Colorado Mesa University (25-5).

As the No. 2 seed, the Skyhawks will take on a strong Lubbock Christian University (19-11) team that fell to West Texas A&M in the LSC Tournament Semifinals.

The two teams will play at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Colorado School of Mines (26-5) was dealt the No. 3 seed, setting the stage for a third battle this season with No. 6 seed Black Hills State University (25-5). With a Fort Lewis win, the Skyhawks will get a the fourth go-round against either the Orediggers or Yellow Jackets this season.

The regional tournament starts with four games Saturday. The semifinals will take place Sunday and the regional championship will be held Tuesday (March 14).

Skyhawks avenge loss to Mines

FLC had a chance to host the RMAC Tournament, but Colorado School of Mines beat FLC in the regular-season finale to send it to Colorado Mesa University via a head-to-head tiebreaker.

On Saturday, after the Orediggers knocked off the hosting Mavericks, FLC scored some revenge.

The Skyhawks never trailed in the championship game. FLC shot 56.7% from the field in the opening half and led by as many as 15. FLC took a 42-33 lead into halftime and continued to keep Mines at arms length the rest of contest to win their seventh RMAC Tournament championship 82-76.

“This was a phenomenal win for the program,” head coach Bob Pietrack said. “Mines is a phenomenal and championship program. When you play a team three times you know what each other is going to do. You may tinker with things and make small adjustments, but it really just comes down to making and missing. Overall, I'm just really happy for our guys. Coaching is simply about the players, and we have a great, selfless group to work with who are all bought into the program. To be able to coach a special team like this, I'm truly blessed.”

Akuel Kot scored 23 points and was named the RMAC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Brenden Boatwright and Obi Agbim had big games and were also named to the all-tournament team along with Junior Garbrah, who had a monster game in the semifinals against Black Hills.

Agbim scored 19 against Mines, coming off the bench to lead the team in first-half scoring with 13 points. Boatwright added 16 against the Orediggers. Garbrah scored 22 against Black Hills.

FLC also beat Regis University 96-89 and Black Hills 83-78 en route to the RMAC Tournament title.