By DOUG EADS
Coming off their first win in program history over a collegiate team last Tuesday with a win over Georgia Northwestern Technical College, the Campbellsville-Somerset University Tigers were not as fortunate on Saturday afternoon on their home floor at Somerset Christian School against Combine Academy out of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The visitors from the Tar Heel state raced out to a 59-40 lead over Al Gover’s club at halftime, and despite a valiant comeback attempt in the second half by the Tigers, CU-Somerset fell to 2-14 on the season with a 106-92 loss.
Despite falling behind by as many as 23 points in the first half of play, the Tigers got as close as four points late in the game, trailing Combine Academy by only an 84-80 margin.
However, a couple of missed free throws, a pair of back to back turnovers, compounded by a couple of three-point baskets from the visitors thwarted the comeback bid.
“I am extremely proud of our effort in the second half,” stated coach Gover, immediately following the contest.
“We just need to figure out what we need to do at the start of the game and come out stronger,” continued the CU-Somerset head coach. “We just can’t dig ourselves a hole like that. We fought in the second half, and we had it (deficit) down to 84-80, and we had a couple of turnovers there, and Combine Academy got a couple of baskets and took advantage of our mistakes, and pushed it back out to eight or 10 points. That’s what good teams do.”
Combine Academy’s Cameron Traylor led the charge early, scoring 15 of his team-high 18 points in the first half of play, helping the visitors race out to that 19-point advantage by the intermission.
Trailing by that 59-40 score at the half, the Tigers roared back in the second frame. Keelan Kennedy scored 20 of his team-high 24 points after the intermission, helping the Tigers attempt a massive comeback bid.
A three-point basket from former Somerset High School and Wayne County standout Daniel Coldiron trimmed the CU-Somerset down to six points at 84-78 with 6:19 remaining in the contest, and Kennedy followed that up by converting on both ends of a one and one.
Just like that, it was a ballgame again at 84-80, with the Tigers right back in this contest.
That however is when Combine Academy — taking advantage of a pair of costly Tiger turnovers that Gover eluded to — went on a 16-2 run over the next five minutes, making the score 100-86 with only 1:18 left to play in the contest.
Despite that valiant comeback effort, the Tigers would fall on the short end of the scoreboard, dropping this game by that 106-92 margin.
“We are a little hobbled up right now by being down a couple of starters, but we had some kids step up today,” pointed out Gover.
“I was really proud of Leo McCray who came in and did a great job tonight and played his tail off,” added the Tigers coach. “That’s what we’ve got to have off the bench. We have got to have energy, and we’ve got to have effort when we substitute. Man, he did a great job for us tonight.”
As far as the overall record goes for now, being in year one as a college basketball program, Gover says the main goal for this season is just not wins and losses — not by a long shot.
“Our goal for this year as a first year program is not necessarily about wins and losses,” stated the CU-Somerset head coach.
“It’s simply about getting better,” Gover continued. “If we can get better every day at practice, and in each and every game we play, we’re going to be fine. I thought we made strides today, because that’s a very good team we just played. They have got some kids that are going big time, and I thought we did pretty well.”
Five players for CU-Somerset hit for double figures in the contest.
Kennedy paced the Tigers with 24 points, while Josiah Williams — who led the Tigers in last Tuesday’s win with 25 points — added 18 points for CU-Somerset. A.J. Thomas scored 14 points, McCray came off the bench and added 13 points, and Meith Reclow chipped in with 11 points.
CU-Somerset will return to action this Friday evening, going on the road to take on Combine Academy to finish the home and home series between the two schools.