Ponies to play Navarro for championship


Katy Chance

Coach Grant McMillan and the Panola College Men's Basketball team will play for conference championship Saturday on the road at Navarro College.

The Panola Ponies will play Navarro College for the Region XIV Eastern Conference Championship in Corsicana at 4 p.m., Saturday, March 2.  The winner of the game will not only win the Eastern Texas Conference Championship, but will also secure the #1 seed going into the NJCAA Region XIV Athletic Conference Tournament set for next week, March 7-9, at Centenary College in Shreveport, La.

Panola’s Head Coach Grant McMillan’s message to his team is simple: “For us it’s a one-game season.  Empty your tank for one game!  Saturday there won’t be a lot of easy moments, no time for second thoughts or hesitation.  That’s why you come to Panola and Region XIV to play in ballgames like these. Playing the first place team in their own building against an incredibly well-coached and athletic team is a huge game.”

This will be the second  time in the last three years that Coach Grant McMillan has led the Ponies to the Championship game.  His team won the Conference Championship in 2017 and advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament for the first time since 1979, and was second in 2016, which was his first year at Panola.

“Coach McMillan has done an extremely great job with the Panola program and has gained the respect across the country.  He changed the entire mind set of our program and has built a contender each year on the court and off the court.  Not only are they winning basketball games, his student-athletes are graduating on time and receiving major scholarships across the nation.  He is recruiting athletes that will excel in our league and capable of going on to major Div. 1 programs, such as last year’s MVP, Marlon Taylor, who is one of LSU’s top players this year.  We are proud of the Ponies and the coaching staff and will be looking forward to a great run in the playoffs,” said Don Clinton, Vice President of Student Services/Athletic Director.

The Ponies set up the Championship game on Wednesday night, Feb. 27, as they defeated Tyler Junior College in an exciting game in Carthage.  On Thursday night Trinity Valley knocked off league-leading Navarro College to set the stage completely for a championship game on Saturday night.  Both Panola and Navarro are coming into the game with a 12-5 Conference record and 22 wins overall on the year.  Navarro beat Panola 69-68 at the buzzer in the first matchup in Carthage on Feb. 6.  Region XIV is one of the toughest conferences each year in the NJCAA.  This year the Eastern Conference of Region XIV is no exception with the top four teams all just one game apart.  Panola and Navarro tied at 12-5 on top and Tyler and Trinity Valley tied at 11-6.

“Saturday evening’s in game in Corsicana will definitely be one that you will not want to miss!” Clinton said.