By Malen Blackmon
The Brookhaven College men’s basketball team did battle and came out victorious against conference opponent North Lake College Blazers on Jan. 23 at home with a final score of 86-79. The win was the first for the Bears in inter-league play.
Key offensive performances by Brookhaven guards Brian Liles and Landen Stephens kept the Bears in the lead for the majority of the second half.
The Blazers jumped out in front with a 7-0 run when the Bears created a foul and got to the free throw line. Down 9-3, Brookhaven continued to struggle and called a timeout five minutes into the half. The Bears continued to fight, recording a couple of turnovers that resulted in a 17-15 lead, forcing North Lake to call timeout.
Before a small exchange of made shots, the Blazers were held scoreless for almost five minutes. During the run, Liles scored on a fast break layup and was fouled. After making the free throw, Brookhaven went up 33-29. The Bears then pushed their lead to 37-31 before North Lake called their second timeout with 2 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half.
Liles continued his solid start by knocking down his third 3-pointer of the game. On the ensuing possession, North Lake guard Brady Boyd was fouled on a made basket at the rim and made the free throw. Liles scored the last basket of the half, and the Bears led at the break 42-38.
Both teams started the second half fast and exchanged buckets early on. North Lake came out locked in on the defensive end with a couple of big blocks that turned into points and took the lead 48-45.
“We need to pick it up defensively, and we just need to play together as a team,” Stephens said.
After another empty possession that resulted in a turnover, the Bears called a timeout to regroup. Substitutions were made at 15 minutes to give the Bears a spark. Brookhaven then went on a 6-3 run, during which Liles recorded his fourth triple of the game. A few plays later, the Bears went on an 8-0 run before a Blazers basket.
Back-to-back triples by Blazers foward Hunter Whitcher brought North Lake back within 6 points. That was as close as they would get to regaining the lead. The Bears led by as many as 12 points in the final minutes.
Liles led the Bears with 23 points. Stephens was right behind him with 21. Bears guard Trayvon Brockington also made major contributions on the offensive end with 15 points.
Liles said he enjoyed his third game of the season, but is still trying to get his rhythm back.
Starting the game off more aggressively and not playing down to the competition are critical aspects to their consistency, Stephens said.
Chris McGill, Bears basketball head coach, said playing calm and relaxed were some keys to the victory. “We executed our game plan and played a full game.”
The Bears will play another conference game at 2 p.m. Feb. 9 at home against Richland College.