01/28/12 — MOC men defeat NGU

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MOC men defeat NGU

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on January 28, 2012 11:11 PM

MOUNT OLIVE - Far from content, Mount Olive is more than pleased with where its headed.

Kason Cheeks recorded career highs in points with 19 and rebounds with 17 and the Trojans closed with a flurry in 74-59 win over North Greenville on Saturday evening. It was Mount Olive's fifth straight win.

The Trojans rode the hot outside shooting of Mahamed Ibrahim in the opening 20 minutes along with a collective effort on the glass. Ibrahim knocked down three 3-pointers in the first half and Mount Olive outrebounded North Greenville 22-13. Cheeks grabbed five boards and scored 10 first-half points. Craig Hayes added three rebounds and 11 points.

"Rebounding is something we pride ourselves on as a ball club," Cheeks said. "It makes the game more fun and easier when the guards are crashing they become more bodies the opponent has to worry about. That creates leeway for me and the other big men in the paint."

The Crusaders pulled to within 33-26 with three minutes remaining in the first half. Mount Olive scored the final six points of the half to lead 41-28 at halftime. North Greenville big man Paul Harrison led the Crusaders with 13 first-half points. Harrison finished with a game-high 20 points to go with 12 rebounds.

"It was a challenge," Cheeks said of guarding Harrison. "Our coaching staff beat it into our heads the challenge we had in front of us. The key is to take your time and play smart and to make him work. He's going to be a factor on the offensive end but we have to make him work when we're on our offense."

North Greenville (10-8, 4-6) went on a 12-3 run early in the second half to cut the Trojans' advantage to 46-40 with more than 13 minutes to play.

Mount Olive (13-6, 6-3) continued to attack the glass and did a better job defensively on Harrison in the second half. Kendall Hargrove's jump shot broke the Trojans' scoring drought and Dory Hines 3-point play pushed the margin to 51-42.

Cheeks delivered a layup and a dunk off back-to-back Crusaders' turnovers that stretched the lead to 68-52 with fewer than four minutes left. Hayes scored 14 points and Deshaune Green added 11 points and five rebounds. Kendall Hargrove had 10 points.

"It's good to play good ball and I think we've still got some areas to improve on," Mount Olive head coach Joey Higginbotham said. "We still haven't played that game where we're on completely. Some guys are injured right now and other guys are stepping up. It was just a good team effort."

The Trojans continue conference play on Wednesday at Coker.