By MIKE MONTFORT —
Region XIV men’s basketball results Wednesday settled it.
Or maybe they just started it.
Rival East-Zone unbeatens Navarro and Trinity Valley — the only remaining undefeated teams in Region XIV — posted victories and assured themselves of a huge 4 pm conference collision Saturday here at the Wolens Special Events Center.
Coach Michael Landers’ Bulldogs (13-6/9-0) won their eighth straight game and 11th in their last 12 by downing the Bossier Parish Cavaliers, 83-69, while the NJCAA top-ranked Trinity Valley Cardinals (20-10/10-0) of Kris ‘Bucket’ Baumann won their 15th straight by turning back Tyler, 75-63 at Cardinal Gym in Athens.
So Saturday’s storylines and subplots develop for a high-stakes basketball game.
It’s 10-0 against 9-0. It’s two unbeatens from the same zone squaring off this late in another routine, rough-and-tumble-to-the-point-of-cannibalistic Region XIV conference grind. Nine more league games will remain after Saturday, but for one day, it’s about the pride of national ranking, zone leadership and Region XIV Tournament seeding. It’s about competition between the conference’s two hottest teams that possess the league’s longest winning streaks. In another era, it was ‘Red’ against Lewis, and now, it’s ‘Bucket’ against Landers.
It hasn’t changed. No matter how it’s previewed, it’s still TVCC and Navarro.
Navarro stepped up for Saturday’s opportunity by shooting 52 percent from the floor Wednesday and outscoring BPCC 45-33 in the second half.
Three Bulldogs cracked double-figure scoring, led by Keir Anderson’s 22 points, three assists and four steals. Anderson’s scoring came from an efficient 5-of-7 shooting that included 3-of-4 from three-point range. The Buffalo, NY, sophomore also converted 9-of-10 free-throws.
Sophomore scoring leader Jamar Martin added 19 points from 7-of-13 shooting that included 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Martin also cleared three rebounds, dished two assists, stole a pass and blocked a shot.
More significant contributions came from Eric McCullom, who narrowly missed a double-double. McCullom scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked a team-high four shots.
NC led at halftime, 38-36.
NOTES: Navarro is 34-6 at the SEC under Landers, who is in his third season….Baumann, in his 4th year at TVCC, is 97-25 and 52-15 in Region XIV play….TVCC’s only loss this season occurred at the SEC on Thursday, Nov. 12, during the Lewis Orr Classic. McLennan defeated the Cardinals, 75-68….
- Related: Updated Region XIV Standings Through January 20