via AC News Service/Gary Stallard

It isn’t often a basketball team gets to host its own tournament game, but that’s the situation facing the Angelina College Roadrunners on Tuesday night.

It’s so unique, head coach Todd Neighbors said, that the team is offering a “Kids Get in Free Night” in an effort to share the experience with the entire community. Children attending with parents won’t pay admission – and will be encouraged to make as much noise as possible. 

Adrick McKinney

The Roadrunner will square off against the Coastal Bend College Cougars in a one-and-done, win-you’re-in play-in game to decide which team will enter the upcoming Region XIV tournament as the conference’s 12th seed. The tourney opens on Thursday at the University of Texas-Tyler, but the ‘Runners are treating tonight’s game as if it’s the opening round.

“We’re looking at it as if we’re getting a home tournament game, and having our fans here for the guys is going to be huge,” Neighbors said. “Any team gets a lot of its energy from its home crowd, and we’re hoping to pack the stands and feed off our fans.”

Standing in the way of a tournament bid is an entirely unfamiliar Coastal Bend team. The Roadrunners and Cougars did not face one another in the 2010-2011 season, although they did play some of the same opponents. The Cougars beat Lee College back in November and McLennan College in December, also playing Blinn, Paris and San Jacinto over the course of the season.

For Neighbors and his ‘Runners, an opponent’s familiarity or lack thereof shouldn’t have anything to do with his team’s preparation. As anyone familiar with college basketball can attest, once the tournament begins, it’s a brand-new season.

“It shouldn’t matter who we’re playing if we go all out and play our own game for the full 40 minutes,” Neighbors said. “We’ve beaten some good teams in our conference, and we’ve gone head-to-head with some of the best teams in the country. We just have to focus on doing what we do, and it won’t make any difference as to whether we’re familiar with the other team or not.

“We play all year just for the chance to play in the post season, and anything can happen once a team gets there. We just have to go all out in each game, and hopefully good things will come of it.”

Sophomores Adrick McKinney (14.8 points, 9.8 rebounds per game, eight double-doubles), Trent Brantley (12.1 points, 7.5 rebounds per game, seven double-doubles) and Bamba Dioum (5.1 rebounds per game, 9 blocked shots) will lead the ‘Runners in their final home game of the season. Freshmen Vinnie Walls (9.9 ppg), Mike Myers (9.4 ppg, 6.74 rpg), E.J. Williams (2.8 assists per game), Ja’Darius Davis (36.7 percent from three-point range) and John Morgan have stepped into various roles in support of the big men.

Game time at Shands Gymnasium is 7:30 p.m. Live audio/video streaming will be available by logging on to and clicking on the Athletics link.

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