By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on November 14, 2005 2:01 PM
Last year, the News-Argus began its "Countdown to Pickle Classic" with a recap of the 2003-04 Mount Olive men's basketball season, the greatest season in Trojan men's basketball history. Since the Trojans topped themselves last year, it's only fitting that this year's Countdown to Pickle Classic begins with a recap of "The Greatest Season in Mount Olive Men's Basketball History - Volume 2."
The Dean Dome
After playing an exhibition game at UNC-Wilmington for the second consecutive year, Mount Olive played its first-ever men's basketball contest against an Atlantic Coast Conference school as the Trojans traveled to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina in an exhibition game at the Dean Dome.
Mount Olive lost 100-69, but the game was an unforgettable experience for Trojan players, coaches and fans. Elton Coffield scored 16 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, hitting a flurry of threes late in the game.
North Carolina would go on to win the Division I national championship. Mount Olive would go on to have a special season as well.
Mount Olive won its fifth consecutive Pickle Classic championship, defeating Newberry 102-67 in the title game. The Trojans reached the century mark in both of their games, opening the tournament with a 100-56 win over Bluefield State. Lees-McRae also hit triple figures with a 100-90 win over Bluefield State in the consolation game.
Elton Coffield was named Pickle Classic Most Valuable Player, the first numerous awards for Coffield.
The Streak I
After a two-point loss against West Virginia State, Mount Olive put together a seven-game winning streak to improve to 9-1. Included in the streak was a record-breaking performance in a 119-96 victory over Concord. The Trojans not only set a school record for most points in a game (as a four-year college), but their 71.6 percent field goal percentage was the highest in Division II in 2004-05. Coffield scored a career-high 31 points, while Melvin Creddle added 21 points and nine assists in 39 minutes.
Mount Olive would light up the scoreboard again two weeks later as Victor Young led seven Trojans - yes, seven Trojans - in double figures with a career-high 30 points in a 115-83 win over UNC Pembroke. Mount Olive led by only one point with five minutes left in the first half.
Also included in the streak was a 42-point win over Queens and a win on Barton's home floor for the second year in a row.
Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer
The last time Pfeiffer had visited Mount Olive, the winning basket ended up on ESPN and virtually every cable and broadcast channel. No Mount Olive miracle this time around as Pfeiffer would hand the Trojans their first loss, 114-92. Pfeiffer would snap two more Trojan winning streaks.
The Streak II
After the loss to Pfeiffer, Mount Olive would put together an eight-game winning streak, including seven wins by double figures. The Trojans' 81-72 win at Anderson could have been a double-digit win, but a technical foul assessed against Mount Olive for a dunk during final warm-ups resulted in two Anderson free throws prior to the opening tip.
The Trojans led by as many as 11 points in the first half at Pfeiffer and eventual Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Player of the Year Rico Grier was held to seven points in the first half. But Pfeiffer would rally to take a one-point halftime lead and Grier would score 25 points in the second half as the Trojans would again have their winning streak snapped by Pfeiffer.
In a span of 12 days in February, Mount Olive rallied from double-figure deficits three times, all on the road. The Trojans outscored Erskine 25-4 over the final eight minutes of the game to erase an 11-point deficit for an 83-73 lead.
One week later, the Trojans rallied from a 12-point second half deficit at Lees-McRae for a 93-83 victory. Five days afterwards, Mount Olive came back from 10 points down at halftime for a 70-62 win at Limestone.
Mount Olive was ranked No. 10 in the first NCAA II East Region Poll and climbed its way to No. 2 by the end of the regular season. The Trojans earned their first national ranking in early February and were ranked as high as No. 13 in the NABC Division II Top 25.
The Streak III
How do you top a seven-game winning streak and an eight-game winning streak? With a nine-game winning streak, of course. The Trojans won their final seven regular season games and their first two games of the CVAC Tournament.
Coffield was named to the All-CVAC First Team, while Maurice Horton earned honorable mention. Both players were named to the All-Tournament Team.
For the second time in school history, Mount Olive won a share of the CVAC regular season title, tying Pfeiffer for first place in the CVAC standings. In the tournament championship game against Pfeiffer, the Trojans used a 37-14 run to take a 13-point lead after falling behind by 10 points. But Pfeiffer would come back to win 98-84, ending yet another Trojan winning streak.
Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)
Mount Olive made its second trip to the NCAA II Men's Basketball Championship, earning the No. 2 seed behind top seed and tournament host Pfeiffer. The Trojans defeated No. 7 seed Millersville 86-78 and rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat Indiana (Pa.) 72-64 in the semifinal. Young scored 26 points against Indiana.
Mount Olive-Pfeiffer IV would not take place as No. 4 seed Salem International pulled off the upset over Pfeiffer. Mount Olive withstood several frantic rallies, seeing a 15-point second-half lead trimmed down to three points with 28 seconds remaining.
But East Regional MVP Coffield hit 5-of-7 free throws in the final 64 seconds to seal an 80-73 Trojan victory in the East Regional championship game. Young also earned All-Tournament honors.
The Trojans Are Going To North Dakota
The regional championship gave Mount Olive its first-ever appearance in the NCAA II Elite Eight, which was held in Grand Forks, N.D. The Trojans faced Northeast Region champion Bryant in the national quarterfinals.
Mount Olive erased an early nine-point deficit to take a 35-29 halftime lead. During the season, the Trojans were 24-0 when leading at halftime. But Bryant rallied in the second half and the Trojans were eliminated 84-69.
Mount Olive finished the season with a record of 29-5, shattering the school record for most wins in a season and giving the Trojans back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history.
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