Mark DeCotis, Athletic Communications

Office:  321-433-5700, 321-759-4540 (C)

Watch Game Highlights

BCC Men Win Southern Conference Basketball Championship

February 20, 2013 - Conference titles do not come easy. Especially the ones that are 13 years apart.

In a game whose final desperate minutes seemed to encompasses all of those 13 barren, frustrating years Brevard Community College's men's basketball team wrung out a 66-63 victory over visiting Broward College on Wednesday night.

team and coaches

The victory gave BCC its first Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference championship since the 1999-2000 season and advanced the Titans to the March 7 first round of the FCSAA/NJCAA Division I Region 8 tournament at Chipola College in Marianna.

BCC, which finished the regular season at 24-6 overall and 10-2 in the conference, will play the Mid-Florida Conference runner-up.

But that isn't for 15 days. The focus on Wednesday was the conference title and the struggle BCC had to endure to clinch it.

Broward, which lost to BCC 70-68 in Melbourne on Jan, 28 but then smacked the Titans 87-78 in Davie on Feb. 6 once again proved to be a daunting foe.

Only a three-pointer from long-range by freshmen Jure Gunjina at the first-half buzzer gave BCC any breathing room with a 31-27 lead. Gunjina finished the game with 14 points.

The Titans lengthened the advantage to 38-31 with 15 minutes and 34 seconds to play, led 44-38 with 12:36 to go and 50-41 with 9:51 remaining.

But Broward refused to wilt. The Titans allowed Broward to hang around and paid for it over the final five minutes.

Sophomore co-captain Nyles Evans left the game after landing awkwardly on the court with 4:38 to play and Broward got to within three at 59-56 with 4:19 on the clock.

With 2:09 to go the BCC lead was 64-57 and that's when Broward threatened to turn out the lights. The Seahawks held BCC without a point over the next 2:07 as both Evans and fellow sophomore Gary Gaskins fouled out.

The Seahawks got within a point, 64-63, on three free throws by freshman Dashawn Richmond with 36 seconds to play.

After BCC missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw situation Broward rebounded and called a time out with 23.1 seconds to go.

But the BCC defense clamped down and a wild rebound sequence followed a missed Broward shot with seconds to go. BCC sophomore, leading scorer and co-captain Addison Spruill grabbed the rebound among the flailing arms and bodies with 2.1 seconds remaining. Spruill was fouled in the process and sank the biggest free throws in recent BCC men's basketball history for the final margin.

"That was big, we did what we had to do to win," Spruill said. "I knew I had to knock them (free throws) down to seal the game."

As for the key rebound: "I had to go get," Spruill said. "I had to go get it. It was probably the biggest rebound of the game."

Spruill finished the game as BCC's top scorer with 19 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds, none more important than the final one that set the stage for the championship.

"Coming into the season Coach (Jeremy) Shulman, he told me last year he was fully bought into me, Nyles and Gary and told us we were going to lead this team to a conference championship and go to state and possibly go to the national tournament," Spruill said.

"Whatever we had to do to win. Dogfight, catfight, ratfight."

For Gaskins the victory had a deeper big picture meaning.

"This is the last time I am going to play on this court and it feels great to leave with some hardware, a banner," he said. "Every time I come back here I can look on the wall and see the banner, I was part of that team.

"The next freshmen who come in we're passing the torch to them and hope they can do the same thing."

For his part Evans finished with eight points but his season-long heady play at guard along with freshman Ben Patrick was a key.

"It feels awesome, great," Evans said. "Everything we went through from the summer. At the end of the day we're the champions of this conference.

It didn't come easily.

"Broward is a tough team," Evans said. "They're scrappy, they play good man defense, they get all up into you. This year they seemed to cause us a lot of problems but at the end of the day we got the win.

"That's been our goal all year to get to state and get a chance to go to the national tournament."

For Shulman, the championship in his third season – he won 18 and 21 games in his first two in turning around a moribund program – was sweet.

"You survive and you move on," he said. "I am so proud of the guys. Everyone stepped up at different times. We got some key defensive stops, held a high-scoring team to 63 points."

Conversely: "No one ever seemed to ever get on a rhythm, get on a roll," he said. "We just found a way.

"I thought we were capable," Shulman added about his initial impressions of his team. "I knew we had to play absolutely great throughout the season to have any chance to be where we are right now.

"To me they have surpassed all expectations. There is no way anyone thought we would be where we are right now as Southern Conference champions at 24-6. It's a gutty, gutty win when things weren't going right. We found a way."

After all conference championships don't come easy.