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— By JOEL GRAY

Rocket Launcher Live

The SAU Tech Rockets finally get to play in their own division as Region 2 Conference play begins on Saturday with a 2 p.m. tip-off. The 10-7 Rocket Men host the 10-3 SAU-MidSouth Greyhounds, who have, for consecutive weeks, received votes in the national Top 20 poll; they are the first team outside the rankings--essentially #21--so the Rockets may face a challenge right away.

The 0-10 MidSouth Women’s team have canceled the remainder of their season, so the Lady Rockets will have to wait till Thurs., 1/17 to begin Region 2 play in Hot Springs vs. the National Park Lady Nighthawks.

Region 2 of the NJCAA is comprised of all the junior colleges in Oklahoma and Arkansas, however, on the Division II level there are no junior college basketball teams in Oklahoma. Therefore, only these four Arkansas schools will play for the Div.-II Region 2 title:

• North Arkansas Community College Pioneers of Harrison.

• Arkansas State University-MidSouth Greyhounds of West Memphis, Arkansas.

• Southern Arkansas University-Tech Rockets of East Camden.

• National Park Community College Nighthawks of Hot Springs.

The Rockets will enter Saturday’s game following a 71-63 win on the road against the Arkansas Baptist Buffaloes.

The Lady Rockets were also successful defeating the Lady Buffaloes, 54-27.

After dropping five games in a row and dipping below .500 as the first half of the 2018-19 season drew to a close with the Christmas break, one might have imagined that the magic had run out of the Rockets’ engines. After all, they had burst onto the scene in this, their first year on the court, with a 4-0 start—all against Division I opponents. But then they slumped, slipping to 6-7 by semester’s end.

With the start of the new year and the second half of the season, SAU Tech has again taken D-I teams to task, tallying three straight victories for the tiny Division-II junior college. Monday’s game against the Copiah-Lincoln Wolfpack was the latest—a rematch which avenged an earlier homecoming loss, made more bitter by having been overtime.

But the scales were balanced as the Rockets traveled to the Wolves’ home court and brought back the win, by the score of 89-78.

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