|CIAA South championship on the line for J.C. Smith and Shaw|
|Winner earns tournament's top seed|
|Published Saturday, February 24, 2018 10:32 am|
Steve Joyner has the ideal location for another CIAA championship banner.
In order to earn a South Division pennant for Brayboy Gym’s collection, the Golden Bulls need to beat Shaw in the regular-season finale today at 4 p.m. in the last home game for six JCSU seniors.
“We’ve got the place picked out on the wall,” Joyner said, “but certainly we’ve got to do what’s necessary to win the ball game.”
The Golden Bulls, who are 8-1 in division play, hold a one-game lead on the Bears, who are looking to earn the South title and top seed in next week’s tournament if they win by 11 points or more. Both teams are 11-4 in CIAA games.
“We’re really excited because it’s must-win,” said senior guard Robert Davis, a candidate for CIAA player of the year who leads the league in scoring at 22.0 points per game. “We don’t want any confusion. Just win it and be conference champions.”
A win by Shaw (7-2 CIAA South, 19-8 overall) would be the Bears' 20th of the season and redeem a 93-83 loss to JCSU on Feb. 3. The stakes are evident.
“It’s the first championship, and certainly you want the first one,” Joyner said. “The second one is the CIAA tournament champion and then on the regionals and the nationals and things of that nature. “It’s out there, it’s a goal of ours and it’s something we’ve strived for.”
Emotionally, the Golden Bulls (18-9 overall) are not only playing for a championship in addition to bidding farewell to seniors playing their last game on campus before a packed house. There’s a sense of urgency to succeed.
“It translates in that players can come back into the facility and look up and see what they’ve accomplished,” Joyner said. “We’re always excited about trying to put a banner up and we have that opportunity coming up against Shaw Saturday and we’re going to do everything we can to get it.”
That’s Davis’ goal, too.
“It’s [flown] by, these four years,” he said. “I didn’t really think it would go this fast, but I’ve had fun. I’m going to miss it a lot.”
The Bears’ top players are Angelo Stephens-Bell and Savon Goodman, who average 18.8 and 18.5 points per game respectively.
There are larger goals, starting with next week’s CIAA tournament, but the division crown is symbolic of regular season success.
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