Dixie claims third place in national tournament
A national title slipped away Friday night in the National Junior College Athletic Association semifinals, but John Giannoni III and the Dixie State College Rebels came away with a third-place men’s basketball trophy.
Once-beaten Wabash Valley, Ill., denied the Rebels a shot at their first national championship since 1985 with a 76-73 semifinal triumph in Hutchinson, Kan. Dixie’s Al Williams had a chance to force overtime, but his 30-foot jumper drew iron as time expired.
But Dixie bounced back on Saturday to defeat Indian Hills, Iowa, 86-73 to finish third with an overall record of 35-2. Wabash went on to win the champonship with an 89-83 victory over Allegany, Md., 89-83.
“We had a magical year,” said Dixie coach Jeff Kidder by phone from his office Monday afternoon. “We had great efforts by the kids and just fell one game shy of our team goal at the end of the year.”
Kidder is excited that Giannoni will return next season. The former South Tahoe High guard backed up Scenic West Athletic Conference leading scorer Marcus Banks (16.7 points per game), averaging 8.3 minutes per contest.
“John is a team player and realized what we needed him to do and did it with a smile on his face,” Kidder said. “He played a significant role on our team, and we’re looking forward to him having an impact year next year.”
Giannoni averaged 2.9 points per game and collected 34 assists, 27 rebounds and 22 steals in a reserve role. The 2000 STHS graduate struggled with his 3-point shooting (28 percent), but thrived at the charity stripe (82 percent).
Giannoni’s reliability at the line was never more evident than in the Region 18 finals when he buried a pair of free throws with 5 seconds left to give Dixie a three-point win over Southern Idaho.
“We wouldn’t have been in the national tournament without him,” Kidder said.
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