BELLEVILLE — In a matter of a two-hour span Saturday, a rocky final month of the regular season suddenly got a whole lot brighter for the Southwestern Illinois College Blue Storm.
Freshman Brandon Book connected on a pair of 3-pointers, which were part of four straight SWIC 3s late in the first half, to highlight a 19-0 scoring run, and the Blue Storm poured it on from there as they went on for a regular-season ending 77-59 win over Kaskaskia College.
Mired in a late-season stretch that had seen it drop six of its last eight games, SWIC took a 23-20 lead on Book's second 3 of the game with just over seven minutes left in the first half.
But after Kaskaskia guard DaQuan Boyd scored to cut the lead to 23-22, the Blue Storm took off.
Tony Bradley, Book and Dylan Chatman all hit 3s and Tre Anderson followed with a conventional three-point play as SWIC's lead grew to 35-22.
Chatman followed with another 3 a short time later and when Bradley and JaQuail Townser nailed 10-foot jumpers, SWIC had completed its 19-0 run and led 42-22 at halftime.
"Brandon (Book) got us going there and we did a good job of getting good looks at the basket," ' Blue Storm coach Jay Harrington said. "We hit the shots today. The game is a lot easier when you play as well as we did late in the first half.
"Sophomore day and everybody got a chance to play today. That's what is supposed to happen on sophomore day."
The win gives SWIC a 20-10 record and coupled with a Lake Land College loss at John A. Logan College on Saturday, gives it the No. 2 seed for the NJCAA Region 24 Tournament, which starts Wednesday at Rend Lake College in Ina.
The Blue Storm's first-round opponent will be announced Monday, when first-round game times also will be released.
The game was delayed 20 minutes early in the second half when Anderson and Boyd were involved in a collision underneath the Blue Storm basket.
Anderson sustained an ankle injury and would not return to the game whereas Boyd sustained a cut to the back of his head and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
The Blue Storm, which led by 22 points at the time of the delay, enjoyed its biggest lead of the game -- 28 points --a short time later.
Led by Kevin Sampson and Mater Dei High School graduate Jacob Kampwerth, Kaskaskia cut the lead to 66-52 late in the second half. But the Blue Storm, getting four dunks from Missouri recruit Keanu Post, would maintain a comfortable lead the rest of the way.
Post led SWIC with 17 points, while Bradley (15 points), Book (14) and Chatman (12) also scored in double figures. Former SWIC player R.J. Kwiatkowski led Kaskaskia with 14 points.
But now it's on to the Region 24 Tournament for the Blue Storm.
"Do we have a chance? I've said it all year that anybody in this region is good enough to beat anybody else on any given night,'' Harrington said. "That's why they call this time of year March Madness. Anything can happen.''