By DOUG EADS
ASHVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA — After a rough and rocky start in year number one as a collegiate basketball team, the Campbellsville-Somerset University Tigers are starting to make some noise on the hardwood.
After beginning the season in year number one as a new program with 11 straight losses, Al Gover’s club has begun the process of getting acclimated to the rigors of college basketball, and the results are beginning to show.
The Tigers just completed a three-day, three-game road trip this past weekend, playing two games in Charlotte, North Carolina and the final game in Ashville, North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
And, Al Gover’s club won two of those three contests, improving to 4-15 on the season.
“I was very pleased with the two wins, because all the teams that we played were very competitive,” stated coach Gover after his team’s three-game road trip to the Tar Heel state.
“They all had kids in those prep schools that will be moving on to the next level, so this was some good competition for our team,” Gover continued. “All of the games were competitive, and we were able to pull two of them out. We’re learning how to play late in the game, and how to get a win in a close game. I told our kids as long as we’re competing hard, and we’re playing hard against good competition, we’re going to get better.”
The Tigers road trip began last Friday afternoon in Charlotte, taking on Combine Academy — a program that had defeated CU-Somerset the week prior to the return game.
In Friday’s game, the Tigers won a close affair, with a hard-fought, 86-81 victory.
CU-Somerset led this one at the intermission 43-39, and held on for win number three on the season with the 86-81 victory.
Keelan Kennedy led the Tigers in that contest with 24 points, with Titus Ransom adding 21 points.
Josiah Williams and Meith Reclow also hit for double figures, as they both added 13 points in the win.
On Saturday, CU-Somerset followed that win up with another solid performance, knocking off Evelyn Mack Academy in Charlotte by a final score of 81-73.
The Tigers got a big game from former Somerset and Wayne County standout — Daniel Coldiron — as he led the way by hitting five three-pointers in the game on his way to a team-high 19 points.
Ransom added 13 points, and Kennedy tallied all 11 of his points after the intermission, while Mykal Hampton also hit for double figures with 11 points as well.
On Sunday, CU-Somerset had a golden opportunity for a three-game sweep on the road, but facing Warren Wilson College in Ashville, North Carolina, Gover and crew — thanks to a very rough day from the free throw line — simply let one slip away in a 107-100 loss to the Owls.
“When you go 19-38 from the free throw line, you’re just not going to win many ballgames,” lamented Gover, in talking about the loss to Warren Wilson College.
“We’re going to have to get better at the free throw line, and in that game yesterday it was like a snowball effect,” added the Tigers coach. “We started missing them and we just kept on missing them.Free throw shooting and transition defense was our two biggest culprits yesterday which led to that loss.”
Ransom had a monster game in Sunday’s loss for the Tigers, coming off the bench to score 31 points, recording a double-double in the process with 13 rebounds.
Kennedy added 23 points for CU-Somerset, and Williams joined him in double figures with 12 points, as the Tigers first two-game winning streak of the season was snapped with the setback.
Sitting at 4-15 on the season with a handful of games yet to be played before the Tigers finish the season in a post-season tournament, Gover says the future is bright indeed for the CU-Somerset program.
“From game one until now I think we’re light years ahead of where we were at the beginning of the year,” stated the Tigers coach.
“Kids are starting to figure out the intensity level, the physical nature of the game, and the teamwork you have to have to be successful in college,” Gover added. “We’re on the right track, but it’s a process, and we’ve got to keep our heads up. We’ve got to keep coming in at practice each day, working hard, and doing the things that we need to do to get better as a basketball team.”
The Tigers will return to action tonight at home, facing the Cleveland State Cougars at Somerset Christian School at 7 p.m.
The Tigers opened the season at Cleveland State in their initial game as a collegiate basketball team, and fell in a close affair by a final score of 70-67.
Admission is free to tonight’s game, so come out and support your local college basketball team.