Written and media by Justin Willis.
With the huge win over Spalding University with a score of 129-112, the Greenville’s Men Basketball Team has received their third straight SLIAC regular season title. In this game, Greenville had it their way almost the entire time with the largest lead being at 31 points with 4 minutes remaining. The game was lead by Johari Dix with 32 points and Marvin Bateman dropping 25 points, as well as Vari Bonney leading the team in rebounds with 6.
Even before this victory, Greenville had to get past Webster University on Wednesday in hopes to host the 2018 SLIAC Tournament. During the pre-game warm-up, Webster looked athletic with players capable of jumping extremely high, but Greenville didn’t seem to be phased by it. Riley Simmons pulled off a remarkable backflip in the team huddle to get everyone in the building hyped. Unfortunately for Webster, being able to jump out of the building was not enough to beat the Panthers. Greenville secured the senior night victory with a score of 134-113. Leading the way, Sonti Grady had 26 points shooting 71% from 3-point arch. Isiah Price followed with 18 points, along with Josias Parker who put on a show recording a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists. Johari Dix added 14 points and almost posted a triple-double with one rebound and assist short. Another big factor in the game was winning the turnover battle. They scored 43 points off 33 forced turnovers. Not only did they secure the victory, but they were also one game shy of hosting the SLIAC Men’s Conference Tournament for the second year in a row.
Last year, Greenville hosted the 2017 SLIAC Tournament and was highly favored to become champions and possibly run at the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament. They had the best record in the conference going 14-4 and 11-2 record at home. Also, the Panthers had a number of weapons on the roster like key players such as Shane Smith, who was relentless driving to the basket, Kenny Greene, who could shoot from anywhere on the court, and floor general Micheal Honhm. Unfortunately, all dreams for Greenville making the 2017 NCAA Tournament were crushed within the final minutes of the conference championship game losing a nail-biter to Westminster 128-121.
This year Greenville has a chance to change the script and put everything that happened last year behind them. Greenville should be able to have a full advantage overall in this tournament with a 9-1 record at home and supportive fans. If Greenville wins the tournament, the possibility of making the 2018 NCAA Division III Tournament is in the picture. Marvin Bateman was asked what he is feeling coming into the tournament and responded, “Man! I’m excited about the challenge. We’ve been in this position before; it’s just now on us to finish it.” With that being said, the first test is getting past Westminster in the semifinals. If Greenville can do that, they will advance to the championship game and play the winner of the Eureka vs Blackburn competition.
Please come out and support the GU Men’s Basketball Team this Thursday @ 8 PM!