TJ White lays in the go-ahead basket with one second remaining.  (photo/

TJ White lays in the go-ahead basket with one second remaining. (photo/

T.J. White from Raytown and Daylen Robinson from Kansas City grew up playing on the same AAU basketball teams in the K.C. area. They played ball together at Moberly Community College and both transferred to Central Missouri to play for Kim Anderson this season.

On Thursday night, the two friends worked together to get off an easy lay-in and give the Mules a two-point lead and eventual 71-69 win over top-ranked Metro State in the semifinals of the NCAA D-II men’s tournament.

The win is the first in the Final Four for Mules head coach Kim Anderson and advances the Mules to their first national championship game in 30 years. The Mules face West Liberty who beat South Carolina Aiken, a day after eliminating Drury University, the defending D-II champs. The championship game is at 2 p.m. CT from Evansville, IN.

White scored back to back baskets with just over 14 minutes to play to give the Mules an 11-point lead. The lead was still nine at 58-49 with 9:54 to play, but a 6-0 run for Metro State cut the lead to three and a 13-4 run tied the game at 62-62.

The game was tied three times from that point on, but the Mules never got behind and White’s layup gave them their first national title game appearance since 1984.