Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

March 13, 2014

Rams gash Tigers, meet Union for Mid-East title

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Josh Nesbit comes from Harlem, N.Y., but all he is concerned with now is a trip to Indiana next week.

Nesbit is in no hurry to return to the big city, give him the country life, and a chance to win a national championship.

“I love it, it is quiet, not too much to do, that is what I need,” Nesbit said.  “New York is just too busy for me, I am used to the country life now, I like it out here in Bluefield.”

Championship day has arrived for the Rams, after Bluefield ran past Hiwassee 83-67 in the National Christian College Athletic Conference (NCCAA) Mid-East Regional on Thursday night at the Dome Gymnasium.

Bluefield (16-12) will host Union University in the Mid-East Regional finals tonight, with the winner earning a berth in the NCCAA Division I National Championship next week in Winona Lake, Ind.

Union (15-15) hammered Tennessee Temple 98-71 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

“We definitely want to bring it home tomorrow, cut down the nets, win a championship and go to Indiana and possibly compete for a national championship,” said the 6-foot-7 Nesbit. “That is the main thing and that is what we want to do, and we are not looking back.”

Nesbit scored 17 points on 8 of 14 shooting from the field, with many of those attempts coming off assists from Bluefield’s lightning-quick guard duo of Kearsten Marion, who had 21 points and six assists, and Andrew Wilson, who added 11 points and six assists.

“Every time Kearsten or Drew gets me the ball inside I am going to score,” Nesbit said. “I look for them to give me the ball and I can score every time down low. It is not easy, sometimes it is tough, they are really fast guards so sometimes I wonder if they are going to pass or shoot the ball.”

Both worked on this night, as the Rams wasted little time jumping on Hiwassee (6-19), which had to play without leading scorer Tylar Johnson, who broke his hand after striking a wall earlier in the week.  

“We wanted to jump on them early so we could get our starters out so we can all rest and get ready for tomorrow,” Nesbit said, “because tomorrow is going to be a big, big game, a championship game.”

Led by six of Alex Lubsey’s 11 points and another five from Nesbit, the Rams took an early 21-5 lead, making 8 of their first 9 shots.

“They shot the lights out, they have got a good ball club and they do a good job,” Hiwassee head coach Hugh Watson said. “I was impressed with the way they are coached...

“When you lose your leading scorer it hurts, but I don’t think we would have won with him anyway. They have got a good ball club and I am impressed, and good hospitality too.”

Hiwassee was led by Howie Meadows, who had five 3s and 17 points, and David Lane, who had four 3s and another 17 points. That duo helped the  Tigers trim the lead down to 25-18 before a 3 by Kyle Grisby and eight points in the final 5:57 from Nesbit pushed the margin back to 40-28 at the break.

Nesbit led all scorers with 13 points in the opening half, and finished with seven rebounds in the game.

“He really did a good job, that is one of his better games,” Bluefield head coach Richard Morgan said. “I told him early in the week he is going to have to carry the load for us and get us out of here and I think he responded tonight with a positive effort.”

Meadows’ 3 to open the second half pulled the Tigers within single digits, but that would be the last time. Wilson followed with a 3, Lubsey crammed down an rim-rattling follow-up dunk, and Marion made a trio of 3s during a 21-7 run, with the Rams building its largest lead at 67-40 with 9:22 left to play.

“I think that was our plan to get on them as quick as we could and try to shake them up a little bit and see if we can get the tempo to where we wanted,” Morgan said, “and then we just kind of played ‘d’ from there and just kept it steady.”

That would be all Bluefield would need, with Edison Exume adding 10 points for the Rams. Lubsey also had eight rebounds and three blocked shots, while Marion added three steals.

Up next for the Rams is Union, which scored 49 points in each half to soundly defeat Tennessee Temple. Five players reached double figures, led by Ashanti Day with 21 points and Corleon Pearson with 20.

“They play a little zone and a little man,” Nesbit said. “Our main thing is penetrating the zone and rebounding, get every rebound and defense, defense is our number one thing. Coach preaches about that all year.”

Tennessee Temple (21-13) was paced by Elliot Johnson with 22 points and 14 rebounds, but they were outclassed by the Bulldogs, who forced 21 turnovers and canned 13 3s.

“They are a good ball club, I knew that coming in,” Morgan said. “I seen film on them, we just have got to go into the film room tonight and come up with a game plan that we will have. If we shoot like that we should be fine.”

Tonight’s winner will make a trip to Grace College in  Indiana next week with a national championship as the prize.

“I think our guys understand what tomorrow is all about, tomorrow is championship day,” Morgan said. “We win there and we go to nationals.

“I think our guys understand what is at stake so they will be ready to play.”

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