2003 Classic began bog season
Published in Sports on November 15, 2004 1:56 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- The 2003-04 Mount Olive College men's basketball season will be remembered as the greatest ever in school history. It was a season that saw the Trojans set school records for most wins in a season and the longest winning streak. Mount Olive also earned its first-ever national ranking and more importantly, its first-ever appearance in "The Dance": a berth in the East Regional of the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship.
There was also that shot.
For 2004-05, the Trojans have a pair of exhibition games against Division I teams under the belt, including the highly-anticipated sojourn to the Dean Dome, in which the Trojans fell to nationally third-ranked North Carolina 100-69 -- a game that one of the daily newspapers in the Triangle termed a Tar Heel victory "that was harder-earned than the score indicated." Now the regular season is ready to tip off this weekend with the 39th Annual Pickle Classic at College Hall.
Before getting the 2004-05 season started, here's a recap of the 2003-04 season.
Another Pickle Classic Title
Tournament Most Valuable Player Janson Greene scored 15 points and sparked a rally from a seven-point deficit as Mount Olive defeated Tampa 84-77 in the championship game of the 38th Annual Pickle Classic.
All-Tournament selections Sharome Holloway and Marcus West shared game-high honors with 18 points apiece for the Trojans. In the first round, Sean Barnett and Victor Young each scored 21 points to lead the Trojans to an 87-82 victory over former Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference member and Division I-bound Longwood.
Ten Minutes To Forget
In its CVAC opener at Pfeiffer, Mount Olive stayed toe-to-toe with the Falcons for more than 27 minutes as the Trojans rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to close within 61-60 with less than 13 minutes left in the second half. Then Pfeiffer went on a 23-0 run over the next 10 minutes as the Trojans fell 97-72.
They Call It "The Streak"
(Don't Look Ethel!)
Elton Coffield scored a game-high 23 points as Mount Olive broke away from a two-point halftime lead for an 81-66 non-conference win over Shaw. Little did anyone know at the time that the win would begin a school-record 11-game winning streak for the Trojans.
Top 10? Not In Our House
Queens came into College Hall in early January ranked No. 7 in the NABC/Division II Bulletin Top 25, the second year the Royals came into College Hall ranked in the top 10. And for the second consecutive year, Mount Olive handed a loss to Queens. Marcus West hit 13-of-16 free throws and scored 23 points, while Janson Greene added a career-high 22 points as the Trojans built a 16-point lead, then withstood a frantic rally to defeat Queens 85-81.
A Win In the Dog Pound
Mount Olive had not won on Barton's home floor in four years and it appeared the streak would go to five with the Trojans trailing by nine points in the second half. Then Sharome Holloway took over. Holloway tallied all of his 14 points and 10 rebounds after intermission and hit a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left in regulation to tie the game as Mount Olive defeated Barton 84-74 in overtime. Marcus West finished with game highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Will the Real Trojans
Please Stand Up?
When the Mount Olive Trojans played host to the Anderson Trojans on January 30, the scoreboard gave little indication as to which Trojans were riding a 10-game winning streak and which Trojans were at .500.
Anderson jumped out to an 11-0 lead to start the game and led 38-26 early in the second half before Victor Young's alley-oop reverse slam dunk sparked a 16-2 run to put Mount Olive ahead to stay and give the Trojans a 65-62 win over the, er, Trojans. The win extended Mount Olive's winning streak to 11 and gave the Trojans a perfect 8-0 record for the month of January.
The Streak Ends
(You can look, Ethel)
After a perfect January, Mount Olive saw both its school-record 11-game winning and perfect home record come to an end as the Trojans opened the month of February with a 76-68 loss to Barton. But there would be good news for the Trojans the next day...
We're Number 20!
We're Number 20!
Mount Olive earned its first-ever men's basketball national ranking as the Trojans debuted at No. 20 in the NABC/Division II Bulletin Top 25 Poll. Mount Olive would drop out of the poll the following week. But on the other hand, something special would happen that week.
Play of the Day/
Even without "The Shot," Mount Olive's game against Pfeiffer February 9 at College Hall was special. For one, it was the first time College Hall played host to a game between two nationally-ranked teams. Mount Olive was No. 20, Pfeiffer No. 4. Pfeiffer came into the game as the lone remaining unbeaten men's basketball team in Division II. (Division I St. Joseph's and Stanford were the other unbeaten teams in the country.)
Mount Olive, which had scored only 63 points for the game in its win over Erskine two nights ago, had 64 points by halftime against Pfeiffer.
After Pfeiffer rallied from a 17-point deficit to take a 105-104 lead, Sharome Holloway hit a free throw with 28 seconds left to tie the game.
Pfeiffer played for the last shot, but missed and the Trojans called timeout with 1.8 seconds left and would have to go the length of the court to head to overtime.
Marcus West's 80-foot line-drive heave at the buzzer gave the Trojans a 108-105 victory over Pfeiffer. "The Shot" was No. 1 on ESPN Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays of the Day and was also Play of the Day on Fox Sports and CNN Headline News. The shot was aired nationally on broadcast and cable networks, as well as on local affiliates across the country. It was also viewed internationally on ESPN International.
Mount Olive alum Joe Kurino says he saw the play while in Japan, where he is playing professional basketball.
West finished with 22 points, Holloway recorded career highs of 20 points and 13 rebounds and Young scored 17 points. Maurice Horton added 16 points playing at the point guard position in place of Janson Greene, who would be sidelined the final month of the regular season with a foot injury he suffered the previous week.
From Ecstasy to Agony
Not only did Mount Olive follow the Pfeiffer victory with a season-long three-game losing streak, the Trojans also lost Sharome Holloway for the season when he suffered a wrist injury against Belmont Abbey, one game after the Pfeiffer win.
Let's Go Trojans
Mount Olive finished the regular season with four double-digit victories by an average of 22 points to reach the 20-win mark for the first time in five years. The Trojans defeated Coker in their regular season finale, which was moved to Sunday due to a snowstorm, then "watch" a webcast of Queens' game at Anderson, prompting Mount Olive fans to chant "Let's go Trojans!" Anderson won the game in double overtime on a goaltending call, which would help Mount Olive's cause both in the CVAC Tournament seedings and the NCAA II East Region rankings.
Wild Wild West
In Mount Olive's CVAC Tournament semifinal game against Queens, you couldn't stop Marcus West. You couldn't even hope to contain him. West scored a season-high 31 points and pulled down nine rebounds to lead the Trojans to a 71-65 win over Queens, a game that not only moved Mount Olive to the CVAC Tournament championship game, but also gave the Trojans a more secure perch on the NCAA Tournament "bubble." The win also gave the Trojans a school-record 23 wins on the season.
Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah
Mount Olive came up short against Pfeiffer in its quest for a CVAC championship, but history was made one night later during the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Selection Show:
"And the No. 7 seed in the East Region is Mount Olive College, coached by Bill Clingan."
With those words, Mount Olive was on its way to "The Dance" as the Trojans would compete in the NCAA II Men's Basketball Championship for the first time in school history. Mount Olive lost a tightly-contested 85-80 decision to No. 2 seed Alderson-Broaddus, as Marcus West scored 15 points, Chris Bartley added a career-high 14 points and Janson Greene returned from his foot injury to score 13 points for the Trojans.
The Trojans are hoping for the same success and more in 2004-05. And it all tips off this weekend at College Hall.
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