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It Wasn't Pretty but BCC Men Advance to State Tournament Semifinals
March 7, 2013 - Jeremy Shulman summed it up best.
"It was a grind it out, ugly, it was not the prettiest but at this time of the year it was beautiful," the Brevard Community College head men's basketball coach said on Thursday night while flashing a wide grin.
Gary Gaskins takes a shot against Santa Fe, shooting 10-of-11 for a game-high 20 points in BCC's 69-48 win.
The beauty in the eye of the beholder was a 69-48 victory over Santa Fe State College in the Florida College System Activities Association/NJCAA Division I Region 8 tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night at Chipola College. The victory advances BCC to the semifinals against host Chipola College at 8 p.m. (9 p.m. EST) on Friday.
The game will be webcast live on www.psblive.com.
BCC improved to 25-6 despite leading scorers Addison Spruill and Nyles Evans being held to eight and seven points respectively on a combined 6-for-25 shooting from the floor. But the slack was picked up and then some by fellow sophomore Gary Gaskins who scored a game-high 20 points, shooting 10-for-11 from the floor and by freshman Jordan Smith who sank three crucial three-pointers.
Two of Smith's vital shots came in the second half and expanded a tenuous 44-40 BCC lead to 50-40 and the Titans were never threatened, finishing the game on a 19-8 run.
"They were just confidence shots," Smith said. "When I go out on the floor I have a lot of confidence in my game. We kind of needed a spark and I felt those threes could get us into the flow of the game."
But offense wasn't the sole factor in the victory. BCC clamped down defensively on Santa Fe sophomore Bobby Hunter who came into the game as the nation's leading NJCAA scorer, averaging 25 points a game.
BCC frustrated him all night limiting him to 14 points. Hunter fouled out with 2 minutes and 21 seconds to play with BCC leading 64-44.
"We just tried to be in the right position, make him take tougher shots and don't make it easy for him," said BCC freshman guard Ben Patrick, one of Hunter's main tormentors.
"For the most part we did that. That really forced it into other guys' hands, made them take a lot of jump shots."
Gaskins scored on short-range jumpers and dunks and also blocked three shots in a stellar effort he credited to not wanting Thursday to be his final game in a BCC uniform.
"It was a big game," the 6-foot, 10-inch Gaskins said. "I was going to leave it out there. I knew I had to pick up the slack and carry it on.
"It was a big motivator. Nyles, Addison and I were talking 'this can't be our last game. We've got to give it our all.' "
Jeremy Shulman and Addison Spruill are honored before the Thursday night game, Shulman as the FCSAA Southern Conference Coach of the Year and Spruill as both the conference player of the year and as a member of the FCSAA All-State team.
Shulman lauded Gaskins, Smith and sophomore Luka Pajkovic for their efforts.
"I told Gary all week I think he's a fantastic player. He's had an up and down season and I told him I haven't always done the best job coaching him," Shulman said.
"I told him this postseason I needed him to be the big-time player he is and I told him how fortunate I was to coach him these two years and how blessed I was to have him on the team. I told him he was due for a couple of big games and he came through."
As did the defense.
"Our defense saved us, simply put, because it was an ugly game," Shulman said.
Defense will be a priority on Friday. High-flying Chipola throttled a good Polk State College team 70-47 on Thursday.
"Chipola is very good," Shulman said, "I will be up late hoping we can have a chance to win."
Thursday marked the second trip to the state tournament in the last three years for BCC. The Titans were eliminated in the first round in 2011. The victory also gave Shulman 64 victories in his three years as head coach.
Shulman and Spruill were honored before Thursday's game, Shulman as the FCSAA Southern Conference Coach of the Year and Spruill as both the conference player of the year and as a member of the FCSAA All-State team.
BCC won the Southern Conference championship this season for the first time since 2000.