In the end, they were the “Surviving Six.”
And together, they got the Tacoma CC men to the Final Two.
In a game that saw just about everything – 12 lead changes, 11 ties and a skirmish that led to the ejection of four Titans’ players – TCC survived, 79-74, over Umpqua in the Northwest Athletic Conference semifinals Saturday night at Everett Community College.
Khalil Thompson led all scorers with 28 points, but it was Foss High School product Stephon Shaw who iced the game for the Titans with two free throws with 11.1 seconds remaining.
As the NWAC West No. 4 seed, TCC (19-13) will play for the championship Sunday at 5:15 p.m. in Everett.
“I felt like we had a run like this in us,” Titans coach T.J. Caughell said.
The game got testy with just under 15 minutes remaining when Shaw was fouled beneath the Titans’ basket by Umpqua’s Jouvan Edison.
The action carried into the baseline where Shaw and Edison had words. Four TCC players, including starters Jordan Powers and Ravion Bell, were ejected for leaving the bench.
That left the Titans with six players to finish the game.
“That is my fault,” Coughell said. “I have not talked to guys about if something happens on the court, they cannot leave the bench. They did not know the rule.
“At the time, we were reeling. We were not playing well. We were rushing shots. When that happened, our guys rallied. … They came together, locked arms and said, ‘We are fighting for this.’ ”
Trailing by as many as eight points in the second half, the Titans rallied, grabbing a 76-74 lead on Kahlel Wyatt’s free throw with 20 seconds to go.
Umpqua rushed back up the court. Grant Ellison forced a 12-foot bank shot from near the left baseline that rimmed out, and Shaw was fouled on the rebound.
“The guys were locked in there,” Coughell said.
Shaw’s two free throws gave the Titans a 78-74 lead.
Wyatt finished with 18 points, while Shaw added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
After ending the regular season on a three-game losing streak, TCC has now defeated No. 1 North Idaho in the first round, No. 7 Peninsula in the quarterfinals – and Umpqua in the semifinals.
TCC has won the NWAC title a record seven times, with its last championship in 2012.