Tigers fall in final, face BTW

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

Monday's night Area Tournament finale was something that the previous rounds were not, fast-paced. And it should have been, on the line was not only a nice shiny trophy and the right to call yourself area champion, but home-court advantage for the sub-regional tournament. Charles Henderson took the court as the No. 3 seed against the No. 1 Greenville Tigers, but after a hectic and horrible second half, the Trojans were able to claim the area championship and will play host to the Benjamin Russell Wildcats Friday night, while the Greenville Tigers travel to Tuskeegee to face Booker T. Washington.

Charles Henderson won home court by beating Greenville on theirs, 72-69.

The Trojans had the edge because they could make free throws.

It was a tough match-up as I knew it would be," said Randy Fullington, coach of the Greenville Tigers. "It was a tough game the whole game. I thought both teams played really, really hard and played well. What it came down to was the battle at the free throw line, which we lost. We were 4-for-11. We missed eight free throws in the fourth quarter and it's tough to put teams away when you can't hit free throws in the fourth quarter. It's also something we've struggled with all year. It's just something we've got to get better at here in the post season."

During the fourth quarter, the Trojans made a majority of their freebies while the Tigers were unable to hit water if they fell out of a boat. At one point, the Tigers missed eight shots in a row from the charity stripe, and finished

4-of-12 for the fourth period.

The game was very fast-paced and physical from the start.

Greenville's Devoski McMeans posted a three to cut the Trojan lead to one, 4-3 but the Trojans were quickly able to push it back out to four courtesy of a three from Raheem Barnes.

Both teams traded baskets with the Tigers never really having the advantage and at the end of the first period found themselves down 20-14.

The trend continued with the Trojans keeping two or three baskets ahead of the gold-clad Tigers and went up by as many as 10 throughout a majority of the second period. At the intermission, Greenville was sent to the lockerroom trailing 39-31.

Greenville came out on fire to open the third period and was able to capture the lead after opening the period with a 6-0 run, punctuated by a dunk from the Tigers' Isiah Mack.

The Trojans were able to push ahead slowly, but the Tigers kept cutting into the lead until finally Lynn Lewis posted a steal and passed to McMeans who laid it in to tie the game at 50-50 and then as the clock ticked down McMeans passed to Curtis Fields who laid it in to put the home team up by a pair, 52-50 as the buzzer sounded to end the period.

"It was a physical ballgame," said Carl Hollis, coach of the Trojans. "It looked like there was a lot of touch-fouls called and then there was a lot of physical-fouls that weren't called on both ends."

"Greenville played a great ballgame they were fired up. Win or lose now doesn't mean anything. This game right here is like a practice session to get you ready for the next game. What this actually means is that you are still alive and you are playing and your kids have to be ready to play. It means whoever the hungriest is going to go over to Troy State. Tonight we shot free throws lousy down the stretch. I think the free throw line made the difference in the game, it was a hard-fought game. I don't think it's over for them I hope we win at home and they win on the road and we both meet again in the regional."

But, in the fourth period, the Trojans battled back and thanks to being the better free throw shooting team, they were able to capture and surpass their opponents.

Demonte King was sent to the line for a pair after being fouled by McMeans.

King sank both and put the visitors from Troy up, 58-57. That one point quickly turned to three and the Tigers were never able to recapture the lead despite several attempts.

With time ticking down, the Tigers had one final shot to win the game, but Rashad Knight was fouled on the three point try and the buzzer sounded giving the Trojans the victory.

Barnes was the leading scorer for the Trojans with 18 points.

He was followed by King's 16 points, Quavian Lewis's 12 points and Jason Swanson's 15 points.

For the Tigers, McMeans posted 19 points, Gaviston Warren had 14 points and Fields finished with 11 points.