11/13/06 — Pickle Classic Countdown: MOC men tip off season Friday

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Pickle Classic Countdown: MOC men tip off season Friday

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on November 13, 2006 1:47 PM

The Mount Olive College men's basketball team tips off its 2006-07 season with the 41st Annual Pickle Classic Friday and Saturday at Kornegay Arena. Once again, the News-Argus will provide a countdown to the Pickle Classic with features on the participating teams and a look back at previous Pickle Classics.

This year's countdown will also include profiles on the five inaugural inductees into the Mount Olive College Athletics Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Hennessee Room on the Mount Olive College campus.

Before looking ahead to 2006-07, let's take a look at last season, which saw the Trojans earn their highest-ever national ranking, as well as their third consecutive 20-win season and NCAA tournament appearance.

Top 10 Baby!

Even before the 2005-06 season tipped off, the Trojans made history. Mount Olive was ranked No. 5 in Street and Smith's Magazine Preseason Top 10 and No. 7 in the NABC/Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25, marking the first-ever top 10 national ranking in Trojan men's basketball history.

The same week the Trojans were ranked in the top 10 men's basketball national poll, the Mount Olive men's soccer team jumped to No. 7 in the Adidas/NSCAA Division II Men's Soccer Top 25, giving the Trojans two national top 10 teams in the same week for the first time in school history.

D-I exhibitions

For the second year in a row, Mount Olive played exhibition games against two NCAA Division I opponents, including an ACC team. The Trojans faced UNC-Wilmington for the third straight year, then made their first-ever appearance in the RBC Center to take on North Carolina State.

Lordy, Lordy, Pickle Classic turns 40

Mount Olive celebrated the 40th Annual Pickle Classic by winning its sixth consecutive championship. For the second year in a row, the Trojans reached the century mark in both games, defeating Lees-McRae 111-67 in the first round and outscoring Chowan 105-75 in the championship game. Victor Young was named Most Valuable Player as he, Maurice Horton and Chuckie Jefferson became the third four-year class to win four Pickle Classic titles.

First-ever top 10 battle

For the first time in Trojan men's basketball history, Mount Olive faced a national top 10 team while ranked in the top 10. The ninth-ranked Trojans took on No. 10 West Virginia State in early January. Mount Olive cut a 19-point deficit down to five points in the final minute, but West Virginia State held on for a 99-90 victory, knocking the Trojans out of the top 10.

Two streaks end, another streak continues

After going 0-3 against Pfeiffer the previous year, Mount Olive jumped out to a 22-2 lead and went on to post an 87-74 win over the home-standing Falcons. Elton Coffield scored a career-high 33 points and Melvin Creddle set a school record with 13 assists. The win was the fourth in a row for the Trojans on Pfeiffer's home floor, site of Mount Olive's 2005 East Regional championship.

While the Trojans' losing skid against Pfeiffer came to an end, so did the Trojans' winning streak against Barton. Mount Olive went 3-0 against the Bulldogs in 2004-05, but lost at Barton in early January.

Like night and day

At Kornegay Arena, Mount Olive led Belmont Abbey by more than 30 points at halftime and went on to defeat the Crusaders 102-50. In the rematch at Belmont Abbey, the Trojans needed Justin Melton's steal and two free throws with 15 seconds left to eek out a 75-72 victory.

(What a) Senior Night

For good or bad, anything that could happen on Senior Night, did happen. Starting forward and top rebounder Elijah Rouse had to miss the game against Pfeiffer after suffering a cut on his leg prior to the game. The game tipped off more than an hour late due to an injury in the women's game, as well as pre-game Senior Night festivities.

Now for the good news. Victor Young, one of four seniors honored prior to the game, poured in a career-high 38 points to lead Mount Olive to a 105-89 victory over Pfeiffer, giving the Trojans a sweep over the Falcons in the regular season series.

CVAC Tournament

As hosts of the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Tournament "Final Four," No. 2 seed Mount Olive got to play all three tournament games at Kornegay Arena. The Trojans broke the 100-point mark in all three games, opening with a 101-74 victory over No. 7 seed Lees-McRae in the quarterfinals, then outlasting No. 3 seed and two-time defending champion Pfeiffer 105-102 in the semifinals.

The Trojans faced top-seeded Barton in the championship game, which needed more than 40 minutes to decide a champion. Barton appeared headed to victory in the first overtime, but Elijah Rouse's putback at the buzzer forced a second overtime. But Barton led late in the second OT and a Trojan three-point attempt at the buzzer rimmed out as Mount Olive fell 102-100 in double overtime. The loss was the Trojans' third in a row to Barton.

March Madness

Mount Olive, ranked No. 25 in the national top 25, earned the No. 5 seed in the East Regional of the 2006 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship. The Trojans faced No. 4 seed and nationally 18th-ranked Shippensburg in the only first-round game of the entire tournament matching top 25 teams. Facing a team that was allowing only 58 points per game, Mount Olive scored 56 points in the second half and overcame a 16-point deficit to pull out an 86-83 victory.

The Trojans took on top-seeded and tournament host Barton in the semifinals in the fourth meeting between the two teams. Mount Olive overcame a nine-point deficit and led 75-64 with seven minutes remaining. But Barton mounted an improbable comeback to win 82-79 and end the Trojans' season.

Mount Olive finished the season with a record of 25-7. Four-year seniors Maurice Horton, Chuckie Jefferson and Victor Young finished their careers with a school-record 95 wins.