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Sports

Closing act
CIAA South undecided with Bulls, Blue Bears in contention
 
Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:47 pm
by Herbert L. White

How the final week of the CIAA South regular season will turn out is wide open.

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PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON
Johnson C. Smith’s Antwan Wilkerson puts up a shot against Livingstone’s Christian Williams  in the Blue Bears’ 68-56 win Feb. 16 at Brayboy Gym. Livinstone is tied for first in the CIAA South.


Winston-Salem State (19-5, 6-2) and Livingstone (18-5, 6-2) were tied for first in the South Division as of Feb. 20 and play each other on Feb. 23. Johnson C. Smith (16-8, 5-3) and St. Augustine’s (15-9, 5-3) are a game behind and need help to earn the top seed.


Livingstone, which squares off against St. Augustine’s before the finale, put itself in position to earn the division title with a 68-56 victory against JCSU at Brayboy Gym for the first time in coach James Stinson’s nine seasons in Salisbury. The Blue Bears have exceeded expectations all season, but are looking to do more than contend.


“It’s really exciting for these kids, to be able to see their capability,” Stinson said. “The South is going to be a dogfight. We still have two games left and with the matchups it can go either way.”


Livingstone lost at St. Augustine’s 76-65 on Jan. 30 and beat WSSU 75-72 on Feb. 2 on the Rams’ home floor. The Blue Bears have a better road record (13-2) than home (5-3), which raises the stakes.


“Getting this win (at JCSU) helps us with our momentum toward the CIAA tournament and actually gives us the confidence to be able to play in an atmosphere like this, because we’ve struggled at home,” Stinson said.


The Golden Bulls let a prime opportunity slip away against Livingstone in their home finale. To get a piece of the top spot, JCSU will have two sweep WSSU and Shaw on the road.


 “We did not have the right attitude, but hopefully we can learn from that because it’s not going to get any easier at Winston or at Shaw,” Golden Bulls coach Steve Joyner said.


The Golden Bulls have rebounded from a sub-.500 campaign last year, but haven’t shown enough long-range consistency to satisfy Joyner. If they’re going to find it, now is a good time.


“We have to mature and grow up,” he said. “It’s a part of the hand that was dealt us. This (Livingstone) game was a game both teams needed to advance toward the division championship and we lost it.” Joyner said. “…If you’re going to be successful in the tournament you’ve got to be consistent for three or four nights.”

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