The Free Press, Mankato, MN

MFP Sports Extra

March 18, 2014

Brunz helps Central win region championship

MANKATO — Preston Brunz can finally celebrate.

Even though Central Missouri won its first two games, Brunz, a junior guard from Mankato West, had more fouls than points. But in the second half Tuesday, he chipped in eight points as Central Missouri defeated Northwest Missouri State 60-59 in overtime to win the championship game of the NCAA II Central Region men's basketball tournament Tuesday and earn a berth in the Elite Eight.

"It felt great," Brunz said. "I was in foul trouble for the first two games, and finally I was able to make some plays I'm capable of making."

Brunz was a redshirt last season when Central Missouri came to the regional tournament and lost in the quarterfinals. Through two games this season, he had three points and five assists with nine fouls.

Sparked by a fan base of about 20 former West classmates, Brunz was able to give his team some momentum.

"It was just like high school all over," Brunz said. "It felt like I was home again. It's great to win the championship."

With Northwest Missouri (24-9) leading 26-22 at halftime, Brunz hit two 3-pointers as the Mules went up 30-28 after two minutes. He also hit a baseline jumper a few minutes later that put Central up 36-34.The game went into overtime, and Brunz had an assist that helped Central Missouri (27-5) take the lead. He eventually fouled out, but he had 10 points, two rebounds, three assists and a steal, trying to guard Northwest's best player, Deshaun Cooper.

Central Missouri's Charles Hammork, the tournament MVP, had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Daylen Robinson scored 13 points, hitting the winning free throw with 2.4 seconds in the overtime. It was Central Missouri's third victory against Northwest Missouri this season.

Cooper finished with 24 points and six rebounds. Northwest Missouri lost starting center Dillon Starzl to an ankle injury after just four minutes.

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    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Physical play allows Central Missouri to reach championship game MANKATO — Central Missouri attacked the basket, picking up fouls, scoring on layups and passing out to open shooters. It's a plan that worked twice in the regular season, and it worked again Sunday. "I thought we did a good job early of pounding the

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  • Saturday's Central Region leaders Saturday's best Points Cooper (NMSU) 29 Addison (MSSU 26 Adler (MSU 24 Brunson (FHSU) 21 Starzl (NMSU) 20 Rebounds Magee (MSSU) 12 Okagor (MSU) 9 Addison (MSSU) 9 Brunson (FHSU 8 Wooten (MSU) 7 Williams (NMSU)

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  • Northwest Missouri 98, Winona State 77 Northwest Missouri State hits six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes to open a 26-10 lead and rolled past Winona State in the final quarterfinal game Saturday. The Bearcats led by 20 before Kellen Taylor's dunk and 3-pointer pulled Winona State withi

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  • Central Region schedule Central Region men's basketball tourney at Minnesota State, Bresnan Arena Saturday's quarterfinals Missouri Southern 80, Fort Hays State 69 Central Missouri 56, Arkansas Tech 44 Minnesota State 97, Harding 56 Northwest Missouri State 98, Winona State

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  • Central Missouri 56, Arkansas Tech 44 MANKATO — Central Missouri didn't make many shots, so the defense had to be pretty good. The Mules held Arkansas Tech to 29.6 percent shooting, including 3 of 22 from 3-point range, in a 56-44 victory Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA II Cent

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  • Missouri Southern State 80, Fort Hays State 69 Missouri Southern State 80, Fort Hays State 69 Missouri Southern State pulled away in the second half, downing Fort Hays State in the first quarterfinal Saturday. The Lions had a 40-22 rebounding advantage, outscored the Tigers 42-24 in the lane and

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  • Central Region leaders Central Region leaders Scoring Johnson (HU) 18.1 Nicholson (FHSU) 17.3 Addison (MSSU) 17.1 Cooper (NMSU) 16.7 Marei (MSU) 16.5 Brunson (FHSU) 16.5 Rebounding Marei (MSU) 8.4 Taylor (WSU) 7.8 Brunson (FHSU) 7.8 Magee (MSSU) 7.2 Johnson (HU) 5.6

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