Young and Byrd power Columbus State past No. 6 Montgomery for a third place national finish

Chris Byrd
Chris Byrd

LOCH SHELDRAKE, New York – First-team all-conference selections Mario Young and Christopher Byrd combined for 56 points to secure Columbus State's finish of third place at the NJCAA national tournament on Saturday afternoon.

Young went 10-for-22 from the field and grabbed eleven boards for his 13th season double-double. Byrd drained seven shots from the three-point range to tie his career-best along with scoring an additional six points from the field.

Montgomery came out strong, leading by as many as 12 points in the first half. However, in the last minute before halftime, the Cougars gained the lead and never relinquished it.

Anthony Butler and Jeremiah Fair-Harris posted double-figures with 14 and ten points respectively. Fair-Harris had nearly perfect shooting, going 4-for-5 from the field, 1-for-1 from behind the arc, and 1-for-1 at the line. For his part, Butler pulled down eight rebounds and had a game-high two blocks.

Matthew Gierhart contributed eight points on 4-for-7 shooting while Malieck Evans added four points along with dishing out a team-high five assists. Zion Parham and Shamar Brown rounded out the scoring effort with three points apiece.

Columbus State shot 50% from the field and 60% from the three-point range, their second highest percentage of the season. Despite being out-rebounded 35-40, the Cougars had a nice margin in second-chance points, 17-10. Additionally, they converted 17 of Montgomery's turnovers into 19 points.

Post-Game Notes

• Columbus State finishes the season 20-10. Head Coach Ed Thompson concludes his third season as head coach with a 58-31 career record (.535).

• This was Columbus State first trip to the NJCAA DIII national tournament, after participating three times at the DII level (2008-national runner up, 2009-9th place, 2016-top 12 national finish).

• Brookdale, who defeated the Cougars in Game 2, went out to be the 2018 national champions.

Mario Young's 28 points elevates him into the record books as the third highest scorer in school history, totaling 1,008 career points.