By Diana Abou-Saleh
Sports & Managing Editor
Brookhaven College won the Metro Athletic Conference title against the Richland College Thunderducks 68-61 on Feb. 18. By winning the title, the Bears qualified for the MAC playoffs.
The Bears ended the season with a 26-6 record for the most wins in Brookhaven’s history, according to Kevin Hurst, head coach. They also had a 15-1 record at home, 7-3 in conference and a championship title.
On Feb. 24 however, the Brookhaven Bears basketball team saw a 91-78 loss to the Cedar Valley Suns at Brookhaven in the MAC tournament.
This led to the final round of the playoffs Feb. 27 at Cedar Valley College, where the Bears lost the chance to attend the National Tournament in New York to the Cedar Valley Suns with a 92-84 losss in overtime.
The turning point of the game came when the Bears missed two free throws with only 12 seconds to play, leaving the court open to the Suns.
At the end of the season, five members of the Bears basketball team were selected as All-Region or All-Conference performers.
Sophomores Greg Ardister and Willie Byrd were selected as First Team All Region performers. Freshman Herbert Atkins was selected for Second Team All-Conference. Freshman Trey Jones and Sophomore Alec Heffler were selected as Honorable Mention All-Conference performers.
The last time the Bears ranked first in the conference was in 2008, Hurst said. The last time Brookhaven attended the National Tournament was in 1995. Brookhaven made it to past playoffs, but never won.
“Before the last nine or 10 years, the regular season champion automatically went to the national tournament, so we would already be clinched to go to the national tournament,” Hurst said.
In an interview prior to the playoffs David Miller, guard said one challenge throughout the year was staying humble.
The week before the playoffs, Hurst said he had high expectations of winning the tournament because it was a home game.
“My guys are very motivated,” Hurst said. “I just got a lot of tough, hard-working young men who just never give up. I mean, in six of our seven conference wins, we were losing at halftime and came back to win.”
Hurst said in order to get ready for playoffs the team reviewed their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Typically, teams at this point are satisfied,” Hurst said. “My guys were very hungry and focused.”
The first round of the semifinals was played Feb. 22 at Mountain View College. The number six seed, Eastfield College, beat the number three seed, Mountain View College, 83-77.
The number four seed, North Lake College, beat number five seed, Richland, 65-52.
The Bears turned a 40-30 halftime deficit into a 90-72 win in the MAC semi-finals Feb. 23. The victory against the Eastfield Harvesters placed the Bears in the MAC final round.
Hurst thanked all students who supported the team throughout the season.
He also thanked his sophomore class: David Miller, Rashid Alabaddi, Alec Heffler, Colton Steglich, Willie Byrd and Greg Ardister. They won more games than any other previous sophomore classes, said Hurst via email.