Do or die. Win or go home. Whatever term one wants to use to describe Tuesday's tournament play-in game between the Angelina College Roadrunners and Coastal Bend Cougars, it all boils down to the 'Runners punching their ticket to the Region XIV Conference Tournament beginning on Thursday.
The Roadrunners closed out the first half with a 20-7 run, eventually taking an 11-point second-half lead to eliminate the Cougars 89-75 at Shands Gym in Lufkin.
Vinnie Walls led AC with 25 points and the 'Runner bench contributed 26 points as the Roadrunners earned the conference's 12th seed with the win. Angelina College will take on Paris College Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. at the University of Texas in Tyler.
"Truthfully, all the pressure was on us to win this game," AC head coach Todd Neighbors said. "We were playing at home, and we've played these teams in our conference all season. We knew we had to put together a solid game or we'd be playing our last one.
"Give credit to Coastal Bend. They've got some very good players, and they're well-coached. It took a team effort for us to extend our season."
Ja'Darius Davis came off the bench to hit four of nine three-pointers in a 15-point effort. Adrick McKinney's 14 rebounds were a big reason the Roadrunners outrebounded the Cougars by a 40-24 margin; and Mike Myers started and finished with 18 points, including a few high-flying dunks that brought the good-sized crowd to its feet on several occasions.
"I loved having the crowd here tonight," Neighbors said. "They really do make a difference, and our guys didn't want to let them down."
The Cougars' Tiondre Johnson closed out his junior-college career with 31 points; teammate Dajon King added 12 and Aston Brown 11 in Coastal Bend's final game of the season.
Now the Roadrunners (14-17, 6-14) will face a Paris team that escaped Shands Gym with a 54-52 win over AC back on January 22nd. The Dragons hit a bucket with just three seconds to play to upend the 'Runners on that day.
"We know how tough Thursday's game will be, but we also know how tough we are when we're playing our game for the entire 40 minutes," Neighbors said. "I've said it before: Anything can happen in a tournament, and we're happy for the opportunity to see how long we can make our season last."