KIRKWOOD, Mo. -- Jermaine Blackburn (right) scored 22 points and Southwest Missouri State West Plains held on for a 92-89 victory over Olney Central on Sunday afternoon at the Meramec JUCO Shootout.
After a 38-38 deadlock at the half, Olney Central assumed a 57-53 lead on a three pointer by shooting guard Ronald Davis with just over 12 minutes to play.
West Plains took control of the game at that stage, with Blackburn and 6-5 power forward David Stephens playing a key role in the decisive surge.
A 13-1 run over the next three minutes saw the Grizzlies grab a 66-58 advantage with just over nine minutes to play. Olney would rally to tie the game at 70 a few minutes later, but could never regain the lead.
Blackburn again emerged as a pivotal player, burying a three to give West Plains the lead for good at 73-70 with 5:28 to play. The lead climbed to as high as eight points when Stephens' floater in the lane sunk with 1:45 left to make it 87-79.
Olney hung in there, pulling to within a deuce with :55 remaining, but moments later, Blackburn found Travis Parker underneath the basket for a high percentage shot. Parker was hacked on the play, and nailed a pair of free throws that helped the Grizzlies lock it up.
Blackburn, a 6-5 sophomore swingman from St. Louis, led West Plains with 22 points. Darrell White, a 6-5 freshman small forward from Shaker Heights, Ohio, added 19 points, and Stephens tallied 11 for the victors.
Davis, one of the better available wing players in the JUCO ranks this winter, paced Olney with 23 points. Despite playing on a severely injured ankle, point guard Vedran Morovic chipped in 21 points before fouling out. Diego Vebobe added 12 for the Knights in the loss.
Photo: Southwest Missouri State West Plains Sports Information Department