OAKLAND CITY — Though both arrived in Oakland City with losing records and then lost their first two games of the Christian College National Invitational Tournament, class showed during and after Southwestern Adventist’s 84-46 win over Carolina Christian in Saturday night’s seventh-place game.
Carolina Christian, of Winston-Salem, N.C., had just five available players in each of its three games, including Friday’s 110-107 overtime loss to Johnson (Fla.). But the Centurions played hard and gave thanks after Saturday’s loss sent them to a 10-15 record for their school’s first basketball season.
“I’m just happy we’re here. Our first time in this tournament and I hope it isn’t the last,” said Coach Tony Spates, whose Centurions were without six injured players and another who stayed home because a family member was fighting for life. “Actually, seven injured players. T.J. Fullwood got hurt Friday and couldn’t play today. We’d have been down to four players. But Justin Arlo, who played on our jayvee team this season but not Thursday or Friday because he was sick, was able to play today. All of our regular-season starters were hurt. Jordan Stevens (who scored 37 points Thursday and again Friday and 20 Saturday) averaged 20 minutes a game as a regular-season sub. He stepped up big in this tournament. I’m proud of Jordan and all our guys who played here.”
Southwestern Adventist, the 2017 CCNIT champion, could have won by a larger margin Saturday although the Keene, Tex., team had just seven players available, Coach Tyler Wooldridge having reported that six had made plans for the spring break week before the school decided to accept the invitation to return.
“Coach Wooldridge was very kind. That is testimony when you have people who believe in God,” Spates said.”
Travis Gagau parleyed 19 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals as the Knights closed with a 9-23 record. Sitivi Fehoko authored 16 points and 8 boards. Brycent Etier and sub Luis Martinez each scored 14. Sophomore Fatai Eke produced 13 points, 11 rebounds and 6 shot-blocks, one short of the seven-year tournament’s record; he also blocked six in a 2017 game.
Jason Tourize backed Stevens with 16 points, while Taquan Lamont took 13 rebounds and blocked 5 shots.
“All our guys were gassed after playing 45 minutes Friday,” Spates said. “We missed shots we usually make. But I’m still proud of our guys and thankful to be here.”
Knowing they couldn’t foul out, the Centurions fouled just three times, none the second half.
Initially scheduled at 2 p.m., the seventh-place game was played at 6 p.m. Saturday, after the fifth and third-place games, because Southwestern Adventist can’t play Saturday until sundown.