Barons' season ends in GACC quarterfinals with loss to Reinhardt

By Terry Gaston

MOUNT VERNON -- Brewton-Parker College's stay in the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference men's basketball postseason tournament, to which it played host at the Student Activities Center, proved to be short-lived when the Barons lost a first-round game that coach Steve Barker feared immensely.

Reinhardt College, with All-Conference and GACC All-Academic selection Sam Allen leading the charge, held on for a 72-69 win despite some late Brewton-Parker breaks to knock the No. 3 seeded Barons out of the GACC tournament in front of the Barons' largest home crowd of the season.

After scoring two close wins over Reinhardt with a margin that totaled five points, including a one-point win at home on Feb. 20, Barker knew the Eagles - despite their unimposing 15-17 regular-season record and No. 6 tournament seeding - were a team to be respected.

"They are a lot like us in that they can all shoot, and one of them who made two 3s all year long made one," said Barker, who watched the Eagles go 5-for-11 (46 percent) from 3-point range while the Barons were just 6-for-29 (37 percent) from the arc. "On this day, they were the better team."

After trailing Reinhardt 65-50 with 6:12 remaining, Brewton-Parker (20-13) scored nine unanswered points to close within nine and climbed to within two at 71-69 with 12.1 seconds left after a 7-0 run junior guard Jarvis Smith ended with a coast-to-coast lay-up.

A bad in-bounds pass gave the Barons back the ball at their end, but senior guard Gabe Bubon missed a 3-point attempt. Junior post Hector Solano pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 6.1 ticks remaining but missed the front end of the one-and-one.

Junior guard Ben McGlynn grabbed the rebound but had a shot attempt blocked by Reinhardt junior center Deandre Cowan, who pulled in the rebound and called time with 2.1 seconds left.

After a foul, junior guard Reggie Taylor gave the Eagles a three-point lead with the second of two free throws. The Barons caught a break on the long in-bounds pass that Barons senior guard Derrick Hairston batted back to hit a Reinhardt player and go out of bounds on the Brewton-Parker end.

However, the in-bounds pass to McGlynn with one second remaining left a too long and difficult game-tying basket.

The Barons opened the game with a 9-2 run in the first five minutes before Reinhardt scored 10 unanswered points to lead 12-9 with 13:40 left in the first half.

The teams traded leads four times during the rest of the half, with the Eagles taking a 32-24 advantage with five minutes left before the Barons cut the margin to two on sophomore post Bryan Jett's tip-in two seconds before halftime.

Hairston completed his Baron career with a team-leading effort of 19 points, and Jett followed with 12. Sophomore guard Toms Lokmanis had a team-high eight rebounds and sophomore guard Tre Hill had a game-high eight assists.

Allen, a senior guard, led the Eagles with a game-high 22 points and made seven assists. Allen got support with 14 points from sophomore center Terrance Scarbrough and 13 from junior forward Gathan White.

"I think a lot of people would love to have 20 wins," said Barker, whose team recovered from a 4-6 start to win 16 of its next 20 games but finished with three straight losses. "It was an exciting season, we stayed on top of the conference, either by ourselves or sharing the lead, for a month.

"We controlled our own destiny but we didn't take care of business. For the most part, I am pleased with the season, though I feel we still should be going to the national tournament."

Reinhardt was just one of three lower seeds to win in Thursday's first round. Southern Wesleyan University (S.C.), which needed a play-in victory Wednesday to make the first round, kept its winning going with a 75-67 win over No. 2 seed Auburn University of Montgomery (Ala.) to set up a "Cinderella" semifinal Friday night.

Top-seeded Faulkner University was the only one of the top four seeds to make the semifinals but had to work before rolling to an 81-62 win over North Georgia College and State University. Fifth-seeded Georgia Southwestern State University dominated most of its quarterfinal game against fourth-seeded Southern Polytechnic State University before winning 94-86.

Faulkner and Reinhardt continued their winning ways in Friday's semifinals. Faulkner held off Georgia Southwestern 72-71 and Reinhardt eliminated Southern Wesleyan 65-49 to earn an NAIA national tournament berth.

Faulkner, behind tournament Most Valuable Player and GACC Player of the Year Paul Little's 25 points and 13 rebounds, won Saturday's championship game over Reinhardt 73-71.