By Diana Abou-Saleh
Sports & Managing Editor
The Brookhaven College Bears have rebounded after losing the first two games in January. Recovering from two in-district losses during away games at Mountain View College and North Lake College, the Bears defeated the Cedar Valley College Suns 71-80 Jan. 25.
Kevin Hurst, head coach, said it is a challenge to win away games. “It’s just tough to win on the road and it takes the team some time to learn that,” Hurst said. “I mean, the Mavericks are the defending NBA Champions, and they are under .500 on the road.”
The basketball team dominated the court during the match against Cedar Valley. The Bears missed eight free throws in the first half, were only 11 of 22 in the paint, and trailed 41-33 at the break, Hurst said via e-mail.
In the second half, Brookhaven hit 15 of their final 16 free throws to pull out the home win.
The Bears played the Richland College Thunderducks Jan. 28. Hurst said Brookhaven trailed for most of the first 32 minutes of the game but fought back for a 74-67 overtime win. The triumph at Richland College put the Bears’ ranking at 21-3 overall and 3-2 in the National Junior College Athletic Association conference as of press time.
“The biggest goal is to get the guys ready as possible for the conference tournament, meaning they are learning our offenses and defensive stuff as well as possible and playing as hard as possible,” Hurst said.
The NJCAA will hold the Division III Men’s Basketball National Championship tournament March 15-17. The tournament will be held at Sullivan County Community College at Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.
Hurst said the success or failure of a team is not necessarily judged on attending the national tournament, but it should still be every coach’s goal for the season.
This semester, the team is headed by students Willie Byrd and Alec Heffler, who both play forward. The co-captains shared similar perspectives on the team’s performance.
“The season is going pretty well,” Byrd said. “We haven’t accomplished what we want yet, our goal, which is to win national championship.”
“I agree,” Heffler said. “We have lost a few games in conference, but we have learned from them and are working to get to New York and win the first basketball national championship for Brookhaven.”
Bears guard David Miller said, “We have had our ups and downs, but if we stay together we should win it all.”
According to Byrd, improvement for the team depends on getting tougher on the court.
“We are 21 [and] 3 right now, second place in conference,” Hurst said. “I could not be happier where we are.”
The second half of conference play started Saturday against North Lake. The next home game is 2 p.m. Feb. 11 against Mountain View.
A full schedule of men’s basketball games can be found on Brookhaven’s Athletic Division’s website.