11/19/06 — 41st Pickle Classic: Mount Olive seizes 7th consecutive title

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41st Pickle Classic: Mount Olive seizes 7th consecutive title

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on November 19, 2006 2:02 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Elijah Rouse sealed a win and punctuated his 19-point, 12-rebound performance with a slam dunk with eight seconds left as nationally 19th-ranked Mount Olive claimed its seventh consecutive Pickle Classic tournament title with a 79-70 victory over Chowan on Saturday evening.

Elton Coffield, who averaged 20.5 points in the 41st installment of the two-day tournament, was named Most Valuable Player for the second time in three years.

Trayvon Lathan scored a game-high 30 points for Chowan, which erased a 17-point, first-half deficit.

Mount Olive (2-0) used a 15-2 run to break open a one-point game early in the first half as Kendrick Easley's three-pointer gave the Trojans a 22-8 lead with 13:25 remaining. Chowan (1-1) whittled the lead down to single digits, but the Trojans scored eight unanswered points, capped by Rouse's putback and Easley's layup, to give Mount Olive a 39-22 lead with 4:57 left in the first half.

Chowan then held Mount Olive scoreless for more than four minutes as Joe Brice's three-point play and Lathan's fallaway baseline jumper as the shot clock expired highlighted a 10-0 Hawk run. Brandon Streeter's basket with 29 seconds remaining ended the Trojans' drought and Mount Olive went into the locker room with a 41-32 halftime lead.

Rouse's putback on the Trojans' opening possession of the second half extended Mount Olive's lead to double digits again, but Marcus Artis dished out assists on three consecutive baskets and his putback with 14:25 remaining tied the game at 49-49. The Trojans held a one-point lead when Lathan's basket gave Chowan its first lead at 52-51 with 12:49 left in the game.

There were three more ties and five more lead changes before Montel Jones' three-pointer with 9:07 remaining broke a 58-58 tie and put Mount Olive ahead to stay. The Trojans' lead was one when Justin Melton converted a three-point play, then connected on a pair of free throws to give Mount Olive a 68-62 lead with exactly six minutes left. Melton scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half.

Chowan got as close as four points after Joe Brice hit a three-pointer with 2:47 left, but Easley answered with a three of his own on the Trojans' next possession to give Mount Olive a 74-67 lead. The Hawks were held without a field goal the rest of the way and never got any closer than five points the rest of the way. After a free throw by Lathan made the score 77-70 with 23 seconds left, Mount Olive ran the clock down and worked the ball to Rouse, who drove the left baseline for a dunk to ice the game.

Rouse and Easley joined Coffield on the all-tournament team, along with Artis and Lathan from Chowan. Chris LeBorious of third-place Ohio Valley was also named to the all-tournament team.

Easley finished with 17 points for Mount Olive, while Coffield added 14 points. Rouse had 13 of his points in the second half.

Brice chipped in 14 points for Chowan, while Artis added eight points and shared team-high honors with Lathan with eight rebounds.

The win extends Mount Olive's home winning streak over non-conference opponents to 14. Saturday's game marked the first time since the 2002 Pickle Classic that the Trojans were held below 80 points in a Pickle Classic game. Mount Olive had reached the century mark in its last five Pickle Classic games, as well as its last five games at Kornegay Arena.

Saturday's contest was also a rematch of last year's championship game.

Mount Olive opens Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference play Tuesday as the Trojans travel to Misenheimer to take on Pfeiffer. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m.

Chowan heads to Division I High Point University the same evening. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.