Barons lose late but catch break for tournament

By Terry Gaston

MOUNT VERNON -- If the Brewton-Parker College basketball team learned anything Saturday, the Barons were definitely taught that "It's not over until it's over."

The Barons and coach Steve Barker met both extremes of the adage after watching victory in their Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference regular-season finale at the Student Activities Center slip away in a wild turn of last-second events.

Then, thinking that their 73-72 loss to Georgia Southwestern State University dropped them away from the top of this week's GACC postseason tournament bracket, the Barons caught a break and find themselves as the No. 3 seed for the tournament.

Brewton-Parker (20-12 overall, 13-5 GACC) plays No. 6 seeded Reinhardt College (15-17 overall, 9-9 GACC) in Thursday's 4 p.m. first-round game at the Student Activities Center.

The Barons, who had a chance to finish second in the GACC standings when Saturday began, appeared to be relegated to a situation as the No. 4 seed that would have likely meant a rematch against Georgia Southwestern in Thursday's opening round.

Then, if Brewton-Parker had championship game hopes, a semifinal date against top-seeded and nationally ranked No. 10 Faulkner University (Ala.) would have been necessary.

When Barker gained word that Shorter College had beaten Southern Polytechnic State University and relegated the Runnin' Hornets to fourth place, he said he felt a little reprieve. Any such meeting with Faulkner now will not occur until Saturday's 8 p.m. championship game.

Still, the Barons' first-round opponent is a team that concerns Barker after Reinhardt nearly upset Brewton-Parker on Feb. 20.

"They haven't played since March 3, so that will be nine full days since they played," Barker said of the Eagles. "But if they had some people banged up, they've had a chance to heal. They gave us fits before."

The Barons led Saturday's game 65-60 with 2:20 remaining before Georgia Southwestern took the lead with 45.9 seconds left after scoring six unanswered points.

The Barons regained the lead 70-69 at the free-throw line after junior guard Ben McGlynn hit two shots, and junior guard Jarvis Smith hit two shots with 4.4 seconds left for a 72-69 lead after corralling a rebound off his second free-throw miss with 5.5 ticks remaining.

However, Southwestern got the break it needed when junior guard Mac Henderson hit a 3-point shot on which he was fouled with 0.4 of a second remaining.

Henderson hit the ensuing free throw, and the Hurricanes (16-15, 9-9) tipped out two Barons pass attempts to claim the win.

"We got up 10-2 and felt pretty good, but then we hit a wall," said Barker, whose team fell behind 32-23 late in the first half.

"We had every opportunity to win the league last week or at least solidify second Saturday. With it being Senior Day and that we had beaten them by nine at their place, we felt pretty good about our chances."

In his last regular-season game for the Barons, senior guard Gabe Bubon hit 5 of 9 shots from 3-point range to score a team-high 17 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Smith was 6-for-9 from the floor in scoring 16 points and sophomore post Bryan Jett scored 11 points along with team highs of five steals and four blocked shots.

Junior forward Fred Ford led Southwestern with 17 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds, while Henderson followed with 13 points.

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Brewton-Parker College sophomore post Bryan Jett (on floor) pulls in a loose ball for a steal against Georgia Southwestern State University, with help from sophomore guard Toms Lokmanis (left), during first-half action of Saturday's game won by the visiting Hurricanes 73-72 at the Student Activities Center on the Brewton-Parker campus in Mount Vernon.
(Photo by Terry Gaston)