Melton, Holloway enjoy senior night victory
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 22, 2009 2:00 AM
MOUNT OLIVE --Conflicting styles met on the floor at Kornegay Arena on Saturday night.
Mount Olive's run and shoot pace eventually prevailed over Erskine's slow down offense.
The Trojans captured a 68-60 victory over the Flying Fleet and improved upon their lead within the Conference Carolinas standings.
The night was especially sweet for seniors Chris Holloway and Justin Melton.
The duo played its final regular-season game at Kornegay Arena in front of a capacity "Church night" crowd.
"It was emotional... I didn't think it was going to be but it was," Melton said. "I know Chris was feeling it too, all the people in the stands and our parents coming down really made it special."
Melton made his presence felt down the stretch.
After withstanding a short Erskine run, Melton buried a long 3-pointer and pushed the Mount Olive advantage to 39-32. Three minutes later the diminutive point guard sank another shot from beyond the arc that sparked a 7-0 Trojan run.
"I can't say enough good things about Justin and Chris," MOC head coach Joey Higginbotham said. "Great players, great kids, and overall just great people... the two of them have been outstanding leaders for this team."
Leadership proved to be key in the game's final minutes.
With two minutes to play the Flying Fleet tried to climb back into contention on the strength of a 3-pointer by Dejan Nedelkovski and a layup by Brandon Wright.
On the ensuing possession, Melton broke through a trap at midcourt and found Derek Staton who went to the basket and was fouled. Staton hit both free throws and iced the Trojan victory.
"We wanted to play the game in spurts," Higginbotham said. "We knew they were going to hold the ball for most of the game, and we were fortunate to force them into a few quick shots that led to transition baskets for us."
In the first half the Flying Fleet's painfully slow pace took its toll on the Trojans offense.
Erskine consistently ran 30 seconds or more off of the shot clock before making a move to the basket and packed into the lane on defense. Mount Olive tallied only 21 shot attempts in the opening 20 minutes.
For the game, Mount Olive was paced by Kendrick Easley's 23-point effort. Melton added 12 points, on 4-for-4 shooting, and eight assists. Craig Hayes added 11 points and nine rebounds.
"This was a grinding game and we made enough plays to come out on top," Higginbotham said. "We have two more important games left in the regular season and we have to keep up the intensity. We have a day off tomorrow, then we will come back with a good practice on Monday."
Mount Olive (17-8, 16-2 CC) will be back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Queens University. The Trojans will battle rival Barton on Thursday in Wilson.
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