A tale of two halves
Twin towers team up to take down Champion
Sports Editor With just 1:37 left in regulation, two of the biggest reasons for Arkansas State University Mid-South’s 105-75 win against Champion Christian College left the floor, to heavy applause.
Sophomores Trent Steen and Tasmania Jones had just teamed up to each post double-digit points, while easing the Greyhounds to their eighth win in nine games at The Dog House on the campus of ASU Mid-South.
Jones finished his night with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Steen checked in with 14 points and six boards of his own.
The duo was just two of six players to score 10 points or more in ASU Mid-South’s seventh time to score 100 points or more this season.
“I thought we didn’t do a very good job of finding their shooters in the first half. I thought we did a much better job of that in the second half, obviously,” explained ASU Mid-South head coach Chris Parker. “I thought our defense in the second half is what got our offense going. We knew that’s how it’s got to be for us, it was just a matter of us making up our minds to go out there and do it.”
Indeed, the first half was a bit of an adventure for the Greyhounds. Champion forced eight ASU Mid-South turnovers in the first half, while outrebounding the hosts in that same period 25-23 and the hungry Tigers trailed just 42-38 at the break.
“They were beating us to all of the fifty-fifty balls,” said Parker. “We didn’t do a good job of playing with energy and intensity. We’re still working on making that a more consistent habit.”
Nearly on cue, ASU Mid-South would take off on the run that would put the game out of reach.
Champion had crept to within a single point at 4746 following a Daniel Thomas three-pointer when Marion native LaQuan Davie would score on a putback with 16:11 left.
Davie’s hoop sparked nine straight Greyhound point during a run that would climax at a 14-2 spurt that gave the Greyhounds a 6148 lead with 12:44 remaining in regulation.
“I really felt like it was just a matter of time (for that run),” Parker says. “I felt as though we had a group on the court that was capable of putting it all together there for a two or three minute stretch. That gave us some breathing room and I think we were able to relax a little more and play our game.”
After making 16 of 34 shots in the first half, ASU Mid-South heated up to 27 of 46 makes after the break, a clip of 56 percent.
The Greyhounds also forced 10 Tiger turnovers, while holding the visitors to a 10 of 37 mark from the field, and four of 16 showing from long distance.
“We started switching some defenses a little bit more, and that seemed to give them a little bit of trouble,” explained Parker.
“We got a spark with some defensive stops and transition baskets.” It was the second time that ASU Mid-South had vanquished Champion this season. The Greyhounds beat the Tigers on the road on January 5, 85-63.
“When we played them in Hot Springs, that was our first game back after the Christmas Break,” explained the coach about his team’s rematch with Champion. “We were also playing in the Bank of the Ozarks Arena, which is a little bit different atmosphere, and we played without Taz. So this was a different sort of preparation for this game.”
ASU Mid-South (15-8 overall) got 18 from Jones, while Joe’Randle Toliver added 15, as did Cameron Ricks. Tyler Armstrong pumped in 16 points, while Steen and Davie hit for 14 apiece.
Champion was led by Cody Connor’s game-high 20 points, Cody Warley added 16 and Darian Sims hit for 15.
ASU Mid-South will play Arkansas Baptist on Saturday and will return home to play Rhodes College JV on February 15 at 6 p.m.
Hardin signs with Lyon College
Former Marion resident Blake Hardin signed scholarship papers Wednesday to play football at Lyon College in Batesville. Hardin helped Northpoint Christian Academy to a 13-1 record and a state runner-up finish in 2015. As a safety, Hardin had 48 tackles and four interceptions. He was a Tennessee West Region second-team safety and was named Commercial Appeal Shelby Metro Defensive Player of the Week once in 2015. He is the son of Mark and Denise Hardin.
By Chuck Livingston