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Tourney begins Thursday at BCC

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

Having won their third Region X regular-season title in five seasons, the Brunswick Community College men’s basketball team has another goal: winning the Region X championship tournament this week at BCC.

The winner qualifies for the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament March 17-21 in Hutchinson, Kan.

For BCC coach Walter Shaw, the final games of the season have been like one-and-done playoffs. A loss to Cape Fear on Feb. 20 meant BCC had to win its final two games over the weekend to win the Region X title. Those victories, over Guilford Tech and Denmark Tech, gave BCC a first-place record of 10-4 (23-6 overall).

“They’re getting more and more focused,” Shaw said about his team. “They understand the importance of this time of year.

“We knew after the loss to Cape Fear we basically put ourselves in a mini tournament. We knew if won the two (over the weekend) we would be regular-season champs.

“Now we have to win three this weekend to be tournament champs.”

And the Dolphins will have more incentive than the seven other teams in the tourney: the games will be the first for BCC in its new gym. The Dolphins had their first practice in the gym late Sunday afternoon.

“I just finished practice 10 minutes ago,” Shaw said. “Normally, Sunday would be a day off. There was no way I could pass up the opportunity.”

Four games will be played Thursday, with the first game at 2 p.m. between No. 3 Clinton and No. 6 Aiken Tech. The others follow: No. 2 USC Salkehatchie versus No. 7. Denmark, No. 4 Spartanburg Methodist versus No. 5 Cape Fear. Top-seeded BCC will make its debut in the new gym in the last game, around 8 p.m., against No. 8 Guilford Tech.

Two games will be played Friday, with the first at 5 p.m. and the second at 7 p.m.

The championship game is 3 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are $10 per person for a day pass and $20 per person for a tournament pass. Children 12 and younger are admitted free.

What Shaw likes best about his team is its balance, something he works toward throughout the season. Sophomore Lamonte Theus averages 12.2 points a game, freshman Mi’kyel Nero 10.4 and sophomore Jeremy Basnight 10.2. Sophomore Andrew Jackson averages 4.5 assists per game and Theus 4.1. Sophmore Jamar Taylor leads in rebounds (6.5 rpg).

“That’s the strength of our program year in and year out,” Shaw said. “We have tremendous balance. We keep everybody off balance by what we can do. We can play big, we can play small.”

In a tournament, that kind of versatility is needed for a team to advance.

“You’re going to have to play different ways,” Shaw said. “You never know what (an opponent) will allow you to do. Fortunately, we have been able to do that.”

BCC 102

GUILFORD 92

BCC stretched a six-point lead to 14 points in the final five minutes en route to beating Guilford Technical Community College 102-92 Friday at South Brunswick High School.

For the Dolphins, Jamar Taylor scored 21 points, Jeremy Basnight 16, Isaac Nixon 15, Andrew Jackson 14 and Mi’kyel Nero 14. Lamonte Theus scored eight points, Chris Hovemale five, Justin Blackwell four, Brian Davis two and Alfred Frayer two.

BCC, which led 63-44 with 14 minutes, 58 seconds left, led 69-67 with 8:50 left. But a 3-pointer by Nixon, another score by Nixon and a 3-pointer by Nero gave BCC a 77-71 lead with 6:55 left.

Taylor hit four free throws but the Titans hit a 3-pointer in 7-2 run that cut the BCC lead to 86-80.

But BCC controlled the next two minutes in taking a 95-82 lead. Two free throws began the run, and a three-point play by Taylor put the Dolphins ahead 91-80. A score by Theus completed the 9-2 run and gave BCC a 95-82 lead.

The Titans hit a 3-pointer in cutting the lead to 98-90 with 1:14 left, but BCC allowed just one more score in closing out the victory.

Early in the first half, BCC led 13-12 and then outscored the Titans 9-0 to take a 22-12 lead with 9:49 left in the half. In the run, Chris Hovermale hit two technical-foul shots, Nixon made a layup and Nero dunked.

Guilford cut the lead to 28-22, but a three-point play by Jackson, two free throws by Basnight and a 3-pointer by Hovermale put the Dolphins ahead 36-22 with about 4:30 left.

BCC scored four points the rest of the half as the Titans hit two 3-pointers and cut the lead to 40-34.

Jackson hit two technical-foul shots at the start of the second half, and then back-to-back 3-pointers by Basnight and a rebound by Taylor put BCC ahead 50-34.

A strange sequence of BCC rebounding missed free throws allowed the Dolphins to score six straight points for a 63-44 lead. With 15:06 left, Taylor hit one free throw but missed the second. Nero got the rebound and scored. He was fouled, but when he missed his free throw, Taylor got the rebound and scored. His free throw put BCC ahead 63-44 with 14:58 left. The Titans then rallied and cut the lead to 69-67 with 8:50 left.

BCC’s five-point victory at Denmark on Saturday clinched the Region X regular-season title.

MICHAEL PAUL is the sports editor at the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or at sports@brunswickbeacon.com.