Tag: Basketball

Men’s basketball begins practice for upcoming season

Josie HowellSports Editor

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Gamecock fans were excited to find out that basketball season was right around the corner when they learned that the men’s basketball team had officially began practice for the 2019-2020 season. The Gamecocks road came to an end last season in the OVC Championship semi-finals. This matchup was a nailbiter against Murray State that ended in a score of 74-76. 

The Gamecocks finished with an OVC record of 15-3 and an impressive overall record of 24-9. This was their third year in a row with a 20-win record. 

They hope to continue this streak in the upcoming season. With players from last year’s successful season and new talent added to the 2019-2020 roster, the Gamecocks have an exciting year ahead of them. 

“The team is fairly new, we have a lot of transfers and a lot of freshmen. They have been great [so far]. We don’t have to coach attitude or anything like that,” said Head Coach Ray Harper.

Players returning from the 2018-2019 season include starter and redshirt senior Ty Hudson, senior Jacara Cross, redshirt junior Derek St. Hilaire and sophomores Maros Zeliznak and De‘Torrion Ware. The team is looking up to seniors Hudson and Cross to lead the team this season.

“Jacara has been in the program for four years, and Ty has been with us now for three,” said Harper. “These guys have done it and know what our expectations are. Ty has been terrific. I couldn’t ask for any more out of him, and Jacara is primed for a big senior year. He has played well for us, behind the some really good players at that position, and now it’s his turn.”

Last season, Hudson brought in over 800 minutes of playing time and started in all 33 games of the season, being the only member of the team to do so. He also ranked second in assists with a total of 89, came in third on his team in points with 323 and ended the season with 28 double-digit scoring games.

Cross started five games and appeared in all 33 in the 2018-2019 season. He was one of just four Gamecocks to appear in all 33 games. Cross also had an impressive .697 shooting percentage for the season and an average of 4.1 points per game.

Out of the eight players added to the Gamecocks 2019-2020 roster, a few to keep an eye out for are junior guard Derrick Cook, junior guard/forward Kayne Henry and junior forward Martin Roub who is an incredible six feet and ten inches tall. While all of the new players added to the team have undeniable talent, these are the players that have impressive stats from their career prior to JSU.

Cook is a transfer from Georgia Highlands College in Rome Georgia. He averaged 13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4 assists per contest in the 31 games of the 2018-2019 season. He recorded double-digit points in 25 matchups and scored 20 or more points on four different occasions.

Henry is a Northwest Florida State transfer who appeared in 31 games for the Raiders, shooting an impressive 50.8 percent and 40 percent from 3-point range, averaging 5.7 points per game. Henry also recorded 2.5 rebounds per game and blocked 15 shots for the 2018-2019 season.

Roub is a Czech Republic native who transferred from Western Nebraska. He started 31 of 32 games as a sophomore with the Cougars. He totaled an impressive 538 points and averaged 31.8 minutes per game in the 2018-2019 season. Roub also scored a career-high 29 points against Laramie County Community College.

The Jacksonville State men’s basketball team will host their exhibition game at the Pete Mathews Coliseum against the Montevallo Falcons on Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. 

For those who want to keep up with the action but cannot attend can tune into 91.9 WLJS FM and listen to Mike Parris give a live play-by-play of the game.

‘Focused’ Gamecocks blow out TSU

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JSU Athletics

Daniel Mayes , Editor-in-Chief


JACKSONVILLE — Because of a crowded top of the OVC, every game carries major seeding implications for the Jacksonville State men’s basketball team these days.

And the Gamecocks played like they had that in mind Saturday night in an 84-65 win over Tennessee State.

Against a Tigers team from the bottom half of the standings, JSU came out with a smothering intensity on both ends of the floor, sprinting out to a double-digit lead before Tennessee State reached double-digits themselves.

“The past two weeks, after the UT Martin loss, We’ve had a different focus in practice and in warmups. Our focus has been better,” senior forward Jason Burnell said. “The three games we’ve lost have been due to lack of focus and we didn’t get off to a great start, but lately we’ve been playing good defensively early and getting back to our identity.”

Jacksonville State (19-8, 11-3 OVC) is tied for third in the league standings with Austin Peay. Belmont and Murray State are tied for first as both have 12-2 OVC records.

Against Tennessee State, the Gamecocks got off to a great start and played good defensively as they raced to a 37-20 halftime lead, which was punctuated by a Jamall Gregory dunk off an alley-oop pass.

The Gamecocks kept cruising through the second half.

Burnell had a big night, even outscoring Tennessee State (8-18, 5-9) by himself 13-12 at one point late in the first half. The senior leader for the Gamecocks finished with 30 points, tying his career-high mark set against Belmont in January.

What to know

—After struggling to hit 3-pointers in recent games, the Gamecocks came alive from behind the arc Saturday night. JSU knocked down seven of their 17 shots from 3-point range to give its offense a boost.

—Gregory helped Burnell propel the Gamecocks’ offense, scoring 13. Christian Cunningham finished with a near-double-double with seven points and nine rebounds.

—Stokely Chaffee Jr. led Tennessee State with 17 points, while Tripp Davis and Kamar McKnight both scored 12.

Who said

—Harper on the win: “Our focus is the same as it always is. Just be focused and get better each day. I thought we did that all week as a team. We prepared the right way.”

—Harper on Burnell: “He’s really good when he’s locked in and playing at that level like he has been the past couple games. We’ve got to continue to have guys like that step up.”

—Burnell on his career-high tying performance: “I felt like I had the hot hand, and my teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and making shots to take the attention off of me.

Next up

—The Gamecocks will play the second of three straight home games Thursday night as Jacksonville State hosts Morehead State. The Gamecocks will finish their home slate for the season the following Saturday against Eastern Kentucky.

Hawks beats the buzzer and Tennessee State

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(JSU Athletics)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief


JACKSONVILLE — Rarely does a basketball game give you one buzzer-beater, but the Jacksonville State women used two of them to win 76-73 over Tennessee State in overtime Saturday.

After Destiney Elliott hit a layup with just 0.3 on the clock in regulation to take the game to overtime, Taylor Hawks pulled up from about 35 feet to drill a game winner as the buzzer sounded in the extra period.

“It’s a big-time shot,” JSU coach Rick Pietri of Hawks’ buzzer-beater. “They pressed us with 5.9 to go, and it forced us to make a long-range heave, and it was just a big-time shot. When you’re trying to get wins this late in the season, you need players to make big plays for you.”

Hawks, who missed two free throws at the end of regulation that would have tied it, took advantage of Elliott’s late-game heroics to get a chance at redemption. This time she cashed in.

“Missing both of those was big, because if she had made even one, it changes everything,” Pietri said. “She’ll sleep a whole lot easier tonight finishing with that memory instead of the other memory.”

Hawks’ impact wasn’t just felt at the buzzer. The sophomore point guard scored 10 of her 20 total points in the overtime period. Bookending the period with a three to start off JSU’s scoring.

The game-winning shot might be the turning point for a Gamecock season on the brink.

Jacksonville State came into the game at ninth in the standings in a conference that only takes eight teams to its postseason tournament. The Gamecocks are now tied with SIUE and Murray State for the seventh spot, with a game against SIUE still on the schedule for JSU.

What to know

—Elliott, like Hawks, made her impact on the game well before her late heroics. The senior scored just three points in the first half, but came alive for eight points in the third quarter to save a struggling Gamecock offense. Elliott finished with 17 points and tied with Rayven Pearson with five rebounds to lead JSU.

—With the win, the Gamecocks secured their fifth straight victory over Tennessee State. They defeated the Tigers 62-52 on the road earlier this season. The last time TSU beat Pietri’s JSU squad was Jan. 21, 2017, when the Gamecocks fell 64-51 on the road.

—Taylor Roberts had a big night for Tennessee State, keeping pressure on JSU as they made their comeback. Roberts hit five of her six shots in the first half on her way to a game-high 27 points, including the free throws that tied the game before Hawks’ game-winner.

Who said

—Pietri on the win: “At this stage of the season, every game you play is enormous. Winning a game like that is huge in terms of catching up to the teams that are ahead of us. You can’t catch them if you don’t win.”

—Pietri on the Hawks shot: “The thing about that kind of a play, is you don’t forget that for the rest of your life. That’s a memory that we’ll have forever. I’m glad for us we got to experience the positive end of that.”

Next up

—The Gamecocks continue a three-game home stand Thursday at 5:15 p.m., as Jacksonville State will play Morehead State. JSU will conclude its home schedule for 2018-19 next Saturday when the Gamecocks host Eastern Kentucky on Senior Day.

Gamecock Guide 2018: A golden age of JSU Athletics

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Jamall Gregory dunks during the OVC Basketball Tournament (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief


When JSU’s freshman class of 2022 arrives on campus this fall, it will be doing so during one of the most successful periods for Gamecock athletics.

Jacksonville State’s sports teams compete at the highest level of collegiate sports, NCAA’s Division I, with the football team competing in the Football Championship Subdivision of Division I.

Football is perhaps the king of all sports in the southeast, and that’s no different at Jacksonville State.

While Alabama and Auburn are busy laying claim to the SEC at the NCAA’s highest level, JSU has carved out its own sector of dominance in the FCS.

JSU won its only national championship in football in 1992 at the Division II level, but since bumping up to Division I, the Gamecocks have brought the programs to new heights under John Grass.

The Gamecocks come into 2018 in the midst of arguably the most successful stretches in program history. JSU is the winner of four-straight Ohio Valley Conference victories and hold the nation’s longest active Division I win streak for conference victories, having won a league-record 32 straight OVC contests. In 2015, the Gamecocks made a run all the way to the National Championship game behind quarterback Eli Jenkins, eventually falling 37-10 to current NFL star Carson Wentz and North Dakota State.

The Gamecocks don’t show any signs of being ready to lose their dominant form yet, and will enter 2018 as favorites to win the OVC yet again. A solid returning core combined with newcomers such as former Clemson quarterback Zerrick Cooper and Auburn’s Tre Threat look to help keep JSU on track and lead the Gamecocks back to another title.

Football is not the only program at JSU in the middle of one of the best stretches in program history.

Led by coach Jana McGinnis, the Gamecock softball team has taken home at least a share of the OVC crown in nine of the last eleven seasons. JSU finished out 2018 with yet another title and an impressive run to the Tallahassee regional finals, eliminating perennial SEC power Auburn before bowing out to host Florida State.

JSU’s baseball program, which also won national titles at the Division II level, taking home the big trophy in both 1990 and 1991, has seen some success in recent years under coach Jim Case.

The Gamecocks are scheduled to finally move back into Rudy Abbott Field, which has been undergoing renovations for the last two seasons, for the 2019 slate.

JSU’s basketball teams are also on the rise after years struggling to adjust to competition at the Division I level.

Ray Harper is the head man for the Gamecock men’s program, and he made an immediate impact on JSU after setting foot on campus in Jacksonville. Harper led the turnaround from what was an 8-23 finish in 2015-16 to a 20-15 mark in his first season, and the Gamecocks took home the school’s first ever OVC title and appearance in the Big Dance itself, March Madness, the NCAA Tournament.

After another great season last year, in which the Gamecocks finished with a Division I school-record 23-13 mark and made it to the semifinal rounds of both the OVC and the College Basketball Invitational Tournaments, Harper has JSU basketball formed into a winning environment that looks to compete for the conference crown for years to come.

The JSU Women’s basketball program, led by coach Rick Pietri, also has enjoyed some success in recent years. Last season the Gamecocks joined the men in the OVC tourney semifinals, bowing out to eventual champ and nationally ranked Belmont to finish a great turnaround season.

JSU’s other sporting teams, such as volleyball, soccer, tennis, golf, cross country and rifle, field competitive teams year in and year out, and the Gamecocks newest program, beach volleyball, is already gaining ground quickly after just two seasons of play.

Overall, there’s never been a better time to be a Gamecock.