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Sports

Rivalry night
J.C. Smith-Livingstone intensity spills over to basketball
 
Published Thursday, February 23, 2012 7:11 am
by Herbert L. White

It’s been a long time since a Johnson C. Smith-Livingstone basketball game has had stakes this high.
PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Johnson C. Smith forward Antwan Wilkerson and his Golden Bulls teammates can clinch the third seedand first-round bye in the CIAA tournament with a win Saturday against Livingstone. The Blue Bears can earn a first-round bye by beating the Golden Bulls. 

The winner of Saturday’s regular-season finale at Brayboy Gym can wrap up a first-round bye at next week’s CIAA tournament. The loser could sink as low as sixth in the standings and be forced to play in the first round.

In recent years, the schools which played the first football game between historically black schools in 1892, have built an intense basketball rivalry that’s reflected in sold-out campus gyms.

“I think it’s the close proximity of the two schools, I think it’s the collaboration on the Commemorative Classic football game that carries over to basketball,” JCSU coach Steve Joyner said after his Golden Bulls beat Livingstone 74-69 in Salisbury last month. “It’s just working together with Livingstone to create a competitive spirit, camaraderie and a competitive attitude to go against each other.”

Saturday’s rumble is not only for a bye at next week’s tournament. The winner will have the last word on the latest chapter in a rivalry that involves both campuses turning out standing-room crowds that arrive before the women’s game tips off.

JCSU (11-14, 4-5 CIAA South Division) leads the series 51-7, but Livingstone (9-15, 4-5), has been more competitive under coach James Stinson, going 3-8 since he took over the program in 2004.

“It actually became a rivalry when we got a couple of wins here and kind of separated the two,” Stinson said. “Coach Joyner does a tremendous job and my hat’s off to JCSU, but Livingstone will never, ever take a back seat. We’ll continue to play hard and give it what we have.”

“James Stinson is an outstanding coach in his own right,” Joyner said. “He’s developed himself quite well since the Barber-Scotia days. You certainly have to plan for him and his teams.”

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