Another epic battle
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on March 5, 2006 2:21 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Located within 30 miles of each other and connected by a single bypass, archrivals Barton and Mount Olive College staged another epic battle in their growing rivalry.
Two teams eager to seize -- and hungry to taste -- their first-ever Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament championship played with passion, poise and fiery zeal before nearly 1,000 fans Saturday evening at Kornegay Arena.
A controversial charging call and subsequent missed shot at the buzzer allowed Barton to prevail 102-100 in a double-overtime affair that ranks among the most-exhilirating and mentally-exhausting contests between the two schools.
"If anybody didn't get their money's worth in tonight's game, they need not go to another basketball game," said MOC coach Bill Clingan. "The players on both sides played their hearts out. I think the difference might have been our guys were a little fatigued."
The Trojans, indeed, might have been worn out.
Mount Olive survived a grinding 105-102 victory over Pfeiffer University on Friday and left the arena close to 11 p.m. The players had little time to recover for Saturday's 5 p.m. start.
"(The game was) mentally and physically draining," said senior guard Maurice Horton, who is 0-3 in CVAC tournament finals. "It was tough ... both days."
Barton, ranked No. 12 in the NABC Division II Top 25 poll, captured its first tournament title since the CVAC's inception in 1995-96. The Bulldogs (25-3) beat the Trojans for third time this season and undoubtedly assured themselves of the No. 1 seed for next week's East Regional.
Mount Olive (24-6) is ranked seventh in the region and should receive its third consecutive postseason invitation. The NCAA selection committee is expected to release the regional pairings at 10:30 p.m. today.
The teams battled through 13 lead changes and 11 ties. The final lead change occurred on Alejo Barovero's layup, off Casey Moore's assist, early in the second overtime. Moore added short jumper on the baseline to give Barton its biggest lead, 98-94, with just more than two minutes to go.
Maurice Horton sank two free throws and pulled the Trojans within 101-100 with 46 seconds to go. Barton failed to convert its next possession and Mount Olive raced downcourt.
Victor Young cut through the lane and attempted a short jumper among three white-shirted Bulldog defenders. The official called Young for the charge, which angered the Trojan faithful and allowed the Bulldogs to breathe a quick sigh of relief.
"That hurt," said Horton. "I don't even want to talk about it ... a crucial call like that."
Barovero was fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and hit the back end of his two-shot foul.
As time quickly ticked away, senior guard Melvin Creddle dribbled just beyond the 3-point arc and fired a Christian Laettner-type shot. The ball bounced off the rim as time expired.
"I felt it was a good shot," said Creddle, who finished with a team-high 26 points. "I knew we were going to win (or lose) on the shot. I was feeling it a little, so I just took it in my hands right then.
"The coaches might have wanted us to get the two, but the guards -- whoever got it -- was going to live or die by the three."
The teams combined to hit 67 percent (14 of 21) from behind the 3-point line in the opening half. Barton missed all three second-half attempts, while the Trojans were 2 of 12.
"We played what we got," said Clingan of Creddle's shot. "We had no timeouts and were going on the momentum of the game. You take a chance and whatever happens, happens."
Each team struggled to convert possessions toward the end of regulation. Moore, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team, put the Bulldogs ahead 82-80 on a layup with just under two minutes remaining. Elijah Rouse (24 points) forced the first overtime with layup off Horton's assist with 38 seconds to go.
Young had a chance to seal the Trojans' first-ever CVAC championship in the first overtime, but missed a 3-pointer from the right corner. The Bulldogs threw the ball away, but thwarted another game-winning try by the Trojans with 0.9 seconds to go.
Mount Olive fashioned a 17-2 home worksheet with both losses coming against Barton.
"The rivalry has grown since I've been here," said Horton, who received all-tournament recognition. "My first year here was the Tim Black era. Then we started to build a good nucleus and the last two years we took them. This year, they've got a nice chemistry.
"(This loss) hurts more and more, especially when you get to this time of year. But it hurts me even more the way it was decided. You just try to take the positive and learn from it."
Notes: Barton's Anthony Atkinson earned tournament MVP honors with a 37-point outing. ... The Bulldogs outrebounded the Trojans 44-36 and owned a 56-44 advantage in the paint. ... MOC committed a tournament-low 10 turnovers and converted 17 Barton miscues into 18 points. ... Creddle dished out eight assists.
Men's Basketball Tournament
(at Kornegay Arena, MOC)
MOUNT OLIVE (24-6)
Elijah Rouse 10 0 4-6 24, Chris Bartley 3 0 0-0 6, Maurice Horton 1 1 4-4 9, Victor Young 4 2 6-7 20, Melvin Creddle 4 5 3-4 26, Montel Jones 0 0 0-0 0, Chris Holloway 2 0 0-0 4, Justin Melton 0 0 0-0 0, Elton Coffield 3 1 2-2 11, Antoine Griffin 0 0 0-0 0. TOTALS -- 27 9 19-23 100.
Mark Friscone 1 0 0-2 2, Alejo Barovero 4 3 5-6 22, Bobby Buffaloe 2 0 0-0 4, Anthony Atkinson 11 4 3-4 37, Casey Moore 10 0 5-6 25, Courtney Coffer 0 0 0-0 0, Bobby McNeil 2 0 0-0 4, Brian Leggett 3 0 0-0 6, David King 1 0 0-0 2. TOTALS -- 34 7 13-18 102.
Halftime -- Barton 46, MOC 45. 1st OT -- MOC 82, Barton 82. Rebounds -- Barton 44 (Barovero 11), MOC 36 (Rouse 8). Assists -- Barton 14 (Barovero 4), MOC 19 (Creddle 8). Turnovers -- Barton 17, MOC 10. Blocked shots -- Barton 4 (Friscone 2), MOC 7 (Coffield 3). Steals -- Barton 5, MOC 9 (Horton 3).
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