By Jon RathbunHerkimer Times Telegram

Both 2023 finalists moved on and the host school learned its quarterfinal opponent Wednesday during the opening day of play in the NJCAA’s Division III men’s national tournament at Herkimer College.

Herkimer, seeded third as one of four teams with byes in the 12-team tournament, play for the first time Thursday against No. 6 Minnesota North College-Rainy River, a 70-61 winner over No. 11 Joliet Junior College in the final game of Wednesday’s quadrupleheader.

Brookdale Community College’s Darnell Askew (center) releases a shot in a crowd against Hostos Community College at the NJCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament in Herkimer Wednesday. Brookdale, the defending champion, advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals with a win.

Advancing with Rainy River’s Voyageurs Wednesday were defending champion Brookdale Community College, 2023 runner-up Sandhills Community College and Riverland Community College.

Play Thursday starts at 10 a.m. with the first of two consolation games for Wednesday’s losers. The first of the quarterfinals tips off at 2 p.m.

Herkimer and Rainy River play at 6 p.m. No. 1 Dallas College-North Lake takes on No. 9 Sandhills in the first quarterfinal, followed by No. 4 Montgomery County College against No. 5 Brookdale, with No. 2 Northern Essex Community College playing the nightcap against No. 10 Riverland.

The semifinals are scheduled for Friday at 5 and 7 p.m. followed by the championship game Saturday at 5 p.m.

Minnesota North-Rainy River 70, Joliet JC 61

No. 6 Minnesota North College-Rainy River earned its shot at Herkimer College Thursday by beating No. 11 Joliet Junior College 70-61.

Christian Pujols led Rainy River (28-2) with 19 points. Malik Siggers added 16 points for the Voyageurs who pulled away from an early tie and led by as many as 12 points before halftime.

Ali Romero led Joliet (17-16) with 20 points.

Brookdale CC 93, Hostos CC 76

No. 5 Brookdale Community College bounced back from its first loss of the season and took the first step toward defending its 2023 championship with a 93-76 win over No. 12 Hostos Community College.

Adam Kukaj takes a shot for Brookdale Community College Wednesday while surrounded by Hostos Community College Caimans during a first round game in the NJCAA tournament in Herkimer. JON RATHBUN

Brookdale (27-1) was up by 10 points five minutes into the game and led by as many as 16 before halftime. Hostos (22-10) got back to within two points twice in the second half. Sandhills scored six straight points the second time to start a 13-4 run that pushed the margin back to double figures.

Returning tournament all-star Darnell Askew had 31 points and 11 rebounds for Brookdale, and Manny Bell scored 24 points. The victorious Jersey Blues’ quarterfinal opponent will be No. 4 Montgomery College, the team that beat them by two points in the Region XIX championship game.

Sandhills CC 89, Fulton-Montgomery CC 84, OT

No. 9 Sandhills Community College went overtime to defeat No. 8 Fulton-Montgomery Community College 89-84 in the tournament’s opening game Wednesday afternoon, moving the 2023 tournament finalists back in the quarterfinals.

Sandhills (25-8) trailed 45-43 at halftime and the teams were tied 12 times the second half before going to overtime tied at 78. The Flyers trailed by five points with seven minutes left in regulation but came back despite managing only three field goals in the last 8 1/2.

Jordan Jackson started overtime with a three-pointer for No. 8 Fulton-Montgomery Community College (25-5) and the Raiders led 84-80 before Sandhills scored the game’s final nine points.

Jamori McDougald, a returning tournament all-star, scored 19 points to lead Sandhills which plays No. 1 Dallas College-North Lake Thursday. Zach Riddle added 16 points and 11 rebounds, Damien Robinson had 10 and 13, two other Flyers scored in double figures.

Nahjhime Kirton had 25 points and 18 rebounds for Fulton-Montgomery which had four players score in double figures and two foul out.

Riverland CC 93, Prince George’s CC 78

Riverland Community College led by 12 points at halftime and put away Prince George’s Community College with a big run in the second half of a 93-78 victory.

No. 10 Riverland (30-3) stretched its lead to 16 points in the second half and held off No. 7 Prince George’s (22-8) at the end.

Damar Jenkins came off the bench to hit five three-pointers in the first half and led Riverland with 19 points. Savier McCall added 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots for the Blue Devils who meet No. 2 Northern Essex Community College Thursday.

Jasir Tremble, the nation’s seventh-highest scorer, had 29 points for Prince George’s Owls, and Saveon Jackson scored 22.