All of basketball is in full swing now—Intramural basketball started this Monday, high school teams are in the district tournaments, college basketball is careening towards the postseason, the trade deadline is approaching for the NBA—forcing unhappy teams to make moves they shouldn’t– and, most importantly, the church league team I coach is in full swing.
Lots of people have basketball fever, causing me to get random texts from friends saying things like “Dude, I just went for 14 in a church pickup game! Old man baby hook was FALLING!” or “We hung with them the whole game until two guys fouled out and the refs made us play 3-on-5 and we lost by 12. It was so much fun though.”
I don’t want to spoil the magic of such a good time to be a basketball fan, so let’s get on to the rankings:
12. Mississippi College 5-17 (2-16 in GSC)
Mississippi College won their second conference game of the year! What’s more impressive is how Mississippi College put up 54 points in the second half in the win against Lee. Junior Antonio Johnson was unconscious hitting seven out of 8 attempted threes. They also took Shorter to the brink in the first game of the week, losing 68-67. Could this be some kind of late season push for the seniors or because they love the coach? I honestly have no idea. I’m just happy that they had such an exciting game against Lee with Lee scoring 49 points in the second half. It was a shootout for the ages between two teams trying to prove they deserve every team’s respect.
11. Lee 9-15 (5-13 in GSC)
10. West Alabama 10-14 (5-13 in GSC)
9. West Georgia 9-15 (6-12 in GSC)
The wolves of West Georgia haven’t given up on the season yet. They’re two games behind with four conference games remaining which means they most likely need to win out and hope the teams ahead fall apart.
Don’t tell Stephaun Branch he needs help though. In the North Alabama game he showed us he can do bad all by himself, recording 35 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists. Branch has shown the ability to take over games all year, but lately he’s been trying to drag his team playing like a poor man’s Russel Westbrook. Unlike Westbrook, Branch knows to trust his team when his shot isn’t falling and makes up for it by filling out the rest of the box score. Branch put up 10 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists in the Alabama-Huntsville 95-90 loss. None of the teams in the top eight should fall apart through the final stretch because the 6’3” bloodthirsty shark known as Stephaun Branch can smell the blood of his enemies from miles away.
8. North Alabama 13-11 (8-10 in GSC)
7. Shorter 15-9 (9-9 in GSC)
6. Union 13-11 (8-10 in GSC)
5. Christian Brothers 14-10 (11-7 in GSC)
4. West Florida 16-7 (11-7 in GSC)
3. Delta State 18-6 (13-5 in GSC)
2. Alabama-Huntsville 19-5 (15-3 in GSC)
1. Valdosta State 20-4 (15-3 in GSC)
Valdosta jumped to the top spot in these prestigious rankings this week because they came back one of the worse situations of the season. Against Union on Thursday February 9, 2017, Valdosta was down 30-10 in the middle of the first half and it appeared the VSU Blazers were not prepared for the hungry Union team. Most teams pack it in once they’re down by 20 and the opponents seem as hot and unstoppable as Union was at that point, but VSU battled back and cut the lead to 12 at the half. After that they were able to force overtime and then won 89-75 in OT.
That was a game that proved Valdosta’s ability, confidence and mental toughness. It was the kind of game that leads me to believe these guys are going to make a deep run in the national tournament.
Thanks for coming. See you next week.