Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
Benedict men, CAU Women SIAC Tourney Champs for 2013 By Hal Lamar
ATLANTA- Benedict College’s men’s basketball team made it two SIAC tournament titles in a row Saturday, March 2 when they bested Morehouse College 68-60 before a surprisingly small crowd of 739 at the Frank Forbes Arena on the campus of Morehouse College. Surprising because this was Morehouse’s first time in the tourney finals since they won the whole shooting match in 2004.
The two Tiger fives split wins during the regular season. Morehouse won the first match 68-65 January 26 at Morehouse. Less than three weeks later on Valentine’s Day, Morehouse lost 77-70 to the Tigers in Columbia, South Carolina.
“This (tourney win) was something they really wanted,” said Benedict’s nine year head coach Fred Watson.”When you got that will to win, nothing is going to stop you.”
The key to victory for BC, who at times trailed by as much as 8 points during the contest, was their senior 6-10, 295 pound center Marcus Goode, who scored on 8 of his 16 field goal attempts for 17 points but perhaps most importantly snatched 17 rebounds.
“ He knows he’s our horse,” said Watson. “ We ride him and when we need him, he comes through for us. He knew that at the beginning of the year.”
Morehouse, who came into the tournament second seeded in the conference’s eastern division, got to the finals via Kentucky State in a nail biting 66-65 win and then surprised West top seed Tuskegee 63-58 in the semi-finals .
” After the half we came out and executed like we wanted to (against Benedict), “ said Morehouse Head Coach Grady Brewer.” but wound up taking bad shots and turning the ball over. You can’t do that against a team like Benedict.”
Brewer once again got great performances from junior Darrius Williams who scored 17 points and snatched 11 rebounds and senior Andrew Nelson, who led all scoring for both teams with 20 points.
Benedict, ranked 18th nationally among Division II schools and sixth in the NCAA’s south region, awaits their opponent in this year’s first round of the Division II playoffs. Last year, Benedict lost 69-61 in round one against the region’s number one team Alabama-Huntsville. This year’s regional leader (as of February 27) was Florida Southern so Benedict could face them or second tier St Leo.
During the regular season, Benedict played Florida Southern and lost 77-70.
“ I feel comfortable going in,” Watson says. “ The thing with the region is, they have no familiarity with us. They don’t know us or see us like these (SIAC teams) do. But we’ll take our shot and prepare for them like we do anyone else.”
In the women’s bracket, Clark-AU’s Lady Panthers defeated Benedict’s Lady Tigers 75-58. It was the first trip to the finals for CAU and their first tournament crown since 1999 when they defeated Fort Valley under then head coach Angelyne Brown.
This was also the first conference championship win for Vanessa Moore since becoming head coach six years ago.
“ I’ve done a lot of things and so have my players, “ Moore said as she wept tears of joy, “ “I’ve been close but this is the first time.”
CAU, who finished overall at 17-10 and a conference mark of 12-4, entered the tourney as second seed from the eastern division. They enjoyed a first round bye into last Thursday’s quarterfinals where they defeated Claflin 67-63 and moved to semi-final action against Fort Valley where they held off an attempted Wildcat comeback to win 65-62.
One of the Lady Panther’s lynchpins in the tournament was Conisha Hicks. She led all scorers in the championship game with 20 points. In fact, CAU had four of their ladies in doubles including La’Quisha Lewis, who bucketed 15 points and snatched 15 rebounds.
Hicks, who is a senior, said this when asked what was special about this season that might have been missing from last year’s team and certainly both the 2010 and 2011 campaigns when the Panthers were 4-25 and 8-19 respectively.
“We worked so hard, man” said Hicks, named the tournament MVP..” This (Benedict) was the team that knocked us out last year so this was really revenge. We got it. We did it tonight.”
”I only added two to three key pieces (to the roster),” added Moore. “but we had the maturity and experience and you can’t deny they are talented young ladies. “
CAU will now await their opponent in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. The SIAC’s tournament winners receive an automatic bid.
“We can compete within the region,” said Moore. “We did it earlier in the season (they were 1-1 against ranked region schools. They beat 5th ranked Florida Tech 83-69) so we know what it feels like. We have the caliber of team to compete. We can do it.”
XTRA POINTS: Southern University, who won last year’s Atlanta Football Classic over Florida A&M , apparently won’t be back for a third year. According to Southern’s 2013 grid schedule, the Classic is not on it…... What does this mean? Many of Southern’s fans want to know and I do too. Calls to the 100 Black Men of Atlanta and to director John Grant haven’t been returned to INSIDE as yet…………
John Wilson , the newly appointed President of Morehouse College, was present and accounted for at the SIAC tourney and even got a chance to be seen and heard on CSS TV which carried both the women’s and men’s games..Meanwhile a friend of mine, Oscar Dilliard, a Morehouse graduate and student athlete, said that Dr Wilson told him some years ago when Wilson was enrolled on the campus as an undergrad that he would someday return as President. Wilson finished in the class of 1979....
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