Seventh-Seeded Eagles Set to Face No. 3 Brevard on Saturday in SAC Semifinals
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — After Wednesday’s upset over
second-seeded Tusculum, the seventh-seeded Carson-Newman Eagles
remain in contention for the 2010 Food Lion South Atlantic
Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament title.
The Eagles (11-17) will face third-seeded Brevard (19-9) on Saturday in the semifinals. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, N.C.
The Tornados swept the Eagles in the regular season series, but C-N head coach Dale Clayton was quick to point out that anything can happen in the postseason.
“At this point in the season, the only thing that matters is who is the better team for 40 minutes on Saturday,” Clayton said. “Its like going into battle. All you’re trying to do is survive to wake up the next day. It’s an opportunity to live to fight another day.”
C-N would have been hard-pressed to make Saturday’s semifinal round if it were not for a career-night from senior forward Tray Okoth (Richmond, Va.) on Wednesday. Okoth fired in a career-high 25 points to lead the Eagles to the 76-69 win over the Pioneers.
“He was outstanding,” Clayton said of Okoth. “He worked all day Wednesday before our walkthrough and after our walkthrough, and it showed on the court that he just wanted that game.”
The Eagles will face the challenge of trying to shut down one of the best scoring tandems in the league on Saturday. Brevard junior guard Josh Roper (Charlotte, N.C.) and senior forward Jonathan Whitson (Clyde, N.C.) are ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the SAC in scoring at 20.2 and 17.8 points per game.
C-N held the Brevard duo to a combined 25 points in their meeting in January at Brevard, and Eagles sophomore guard Cameron Sharp (Knoxville, Tenn.) netted a career-high 29 points. However, the Eagles came up short, losing the contest 67-65.
The winner of Saturday’s matchup will face the winner of top-seeded Catawba and fourth-seeded Lincoln Memorial on Sunday in the championship game at 2 p.m. Clayton believes the Eagles have what it takes to get to Sunday’s title game despite a rough ending to the regular season.
“This has been a persistent group, and I thought that was rewarded on Wednesday night (by defeating Tusculum),” Clayton offered. “To see us play well and lose our final two (regular season) games against good teams on the road and then come back and do it again, I think it shows this team believes in itself.”