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Hand out postseason awards
The best and brightest in the CIAA
Published Monday, February 25, 2013 4:00 pm
by Bonitta Best, The Triangle Tribune

Move over you veterans, the young’uns want a place at the table, too.

The CIAA basketball season saw several newbies come into their own, while a few from the old guard are just hanging on.

Fayetteville State women’s coach Eva Patterson-Heath has her own team after leading former Broncos coach Eric Tucker’s squad to the 2010 tournament championship. A shocking loss to Livingstone and a defeat to Shaw aside, the Broncos are the favorite to dethrone the Bears. Patterson-Health has the complete package: Veteran guard play (no team can win the tourney without it), quick shooting forwards, a solid center and a deep bench.

After a 37-46 record the past three seasons and getting picked to finish next to last in the South, Patterson-Heath has done her best coaching job. Having former Hampton women’s basketball coach Walter Mebane by her side hasn’t hurt either.

So, in runaway voting – which is mine – she is The Tribune’s women’s coach of the year. Elizabeth City State’s Alico Dunk makes a good case, too, considering the Vikings were predicted to end up fourth, and is the only undefeated team in their division.

But folks were calling for Patterson-Heath to be burned at the stake after FSU lost to Chowan in the first round of the tourney last year – or was that just me – and it appears she has weathered the storm – with her own team.

The men’s side also had a close race. If St. Augustine’s was still in first place, coach Lonnie Blow Jr. would be a shoo-in. James Stinson has Livingstone on top in the South – the highest ranking the Blue Bears have been at this point in the season in quite a while. But the Baby Ruth goes to Lincoln coach John Hill. The Lions won the North and are having their best season since their Division III days in 1998-99. Lincoln rejoined the CIAA four years ago.

I can only imagine the criticism Athletics Director Dianthia Ford-Kee took in hiring Hill, (long, LONG story there), a former head coach at Saint Paul’s. But she saw something the rest of us didn’t, and that’s why she makes the big bucks.

As stated earlier, it’s hard to win the tourney without good guard play, and the Broncos have it in Kristen Hanzer, our female player of the year. The UNC-Wilmington transfer is averaging 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. She’s also shooting a decent 32.6 percent from 3-point range.

But it’s Hanzer’s leadership on the court that’s been the difference maker. The Broncos are no longer bucking out of control. Hanzer has them galloping toward a possible championship.

The last award is one of those “Duh!” moments. Where would Johnson C. Smith be without Trevin Parks? In last place, that’s where.
Opponents know he’s going to get the ball and they still can’t stop him. Parks is second in the NCAA Division II in scoring with 25 points per game. He’s hit 30 or more points seven times and torched the Falcons for 41 two weeks ago. Somebody get the smelling salts ready for coach Steve Joyner when Parks plays his last game.

BONITTA BEST is sports editor at The Triangle Tribune in Durham.


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