02/02/04 — MOC-Barton about position Ñ andrivalry

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MOC-Barton about position Ñ andrivalry

By News-Argus Staff
Published in Sports on February 2, 2004 2:00 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Tonight's men's basketball game between Mount Olive College and hated rival Barton is a battle for positioning in the conference standings and the regional rankings.

But mostly, it's another chapter in the rivalry.

Mount Olive puts its school-record 11-game winning streak on the line tonight as the Trojans play host to Barton in Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's basketball at College Hall. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.

Mount Olive (14-2 overall, 8-1 CVAC) is coming off a 65-62 victory over Anderson, a game that saw the Trojans fall behind 11-0 and trail by as many as 12 points. Mount Olive took its first lead with three minutes left in the game. Victor Young came off the bench to lead Mount Olive with 13 points and sparked a second-half rally with an alley-oop reverse slam dunk.

Head coach Bill Clingan, who said his team was fortunate to come away with a win Friday, hopes his team learned a lesson from the game.

"The Anderson game has to be a mental wake-up call for us," said Clingan. "If we're going to be the kind of team we need to be, we need to be more prepared mentally, knowing that there's a target on our chest."

Mount Olive is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division II East Region men's basketball poll. Next month's NCAA II east region tournament will be comprised of three conference champions (CVAC, Pennsylvania and West Virginia conferences) and the top five at-large teams in the region.

Barton was ranked No. 9 in the first poll before falling out of last week's top 10.

Mount Olive is among the top 30 in the nation in scoring offense, with an average of 82.6 points per game despite having only one player averaging in double figures and no player averaging more than 13.3 points per contest.

Senior Sean Barnett says the players are focusing on team goals without regard for individual glory.

"Everybody has been contributing all season," said Barnett, a 6-8 forward from Jacksonville. "We're all trying to achieve team goals -- winning a conference championship and getting into the NCAA Tournament."

The Trojans are currently in second place in the CVAC standings, one game behind Pfeiffer. Barton (11-5, 6-4) is in fifth place after a 67-52 win at home over Anderson Saturday. Derek Becton led Barton with 13 points.

Mount Olive ended a drought against Barton last month with an 84-74 overtime victory at Wilson, snapping a streak of five consecutive losses to the Bulldogs. The win was also the Trojans' first on Barton's home floor in four years. Marcus West tallied 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Sharome Holloway sparked a second-half comeback with 14 points and 10 boards.

While tonight's game will have conference and regional ramifications, Barnett says the rivalry will always come first.

"It doesn't matter what the records are, it's always Mount Olive vs. Barton," said Barnett.

"When this game comes to town, throw away the records," echoed Clingan. "It's a great rivalry and it's always going to be Mount Olive vs. Barton."