Valdosta Daily Times

Blazers Blog

January 7, 2014

Blazer basketball rolls on

VALDOSTA — On Monday, the Valdosta State Blazers (9-1, 3-1 in conference play) claimed their third conference of the season, coming away with an 82-74 victory over the Chargers of the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

The Blazers were able to slow the long-range prowess of the Chargers, limiting them to 8-25 on the night (32 percent).

“We can never stop (the Chargers) from long range,” Blazers Head Coach Mike Helfer said. “But we did a good job of limiting their chance at good looks. Offensive rebounds are a great time to get looks at three-pointers, and we did a good job at cutting those down.”

Leading the way for the Blazers in the win was senior David Murray. After ending the first half near a double-double (eight points, six rebounds), he exploded in the second, finishing the game with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“Coming into this season, I had to take initiative,” Murray said. “Scoring is going to be there.  We have guys that can score.  It’s the rebounding aspect that we have to capitalize on and tonight we were able to do that.”

After the Blazers and Chargers played through a shootout in the early minutes of the game, the home team took advantage of strong efforts under the basket to take a 41-30 lead into the half.  

Early in the second half, the Blazers were able to once again contain the Chargers, limiting them to 4-13 from long range (30.8 percent).  

In addition to the outstanding efforts of Murray, junior Colin Cook was also a presence down low. He finished the contest with 20 points and seven rebounds.

“Playing against Huntsville, we already know that we have to limit offensive boards,” Cook said.  “It cost us huge last time we played them (in Huntsville).  From the moment we brought them up on the schedule, we knew we had to play hard and focus in order to get the win.”

A late barrage from the Chargers cut the Blazers’ lead down to one point with 8:33 left in regulation, but key plays from Murray and Cook, as well as stellar shooting from the free throw line, sealed the deal for Valdosta State.  After a poor performance at the line in the first half, the Blazers were able to connect on 16 of 20 from the line (80 percent) in the second.

“When a team makes a run at you, you can’t lose focus,” Helfer said.  “The experience of being in tight games helps.  We’ve been in three overtime games already this year.  Without focus a tight game can go either way.”

In the early matchup, the Lady Blazers (8-2, 3-1 in conference play) fought back from a 16-point halftime deficit to snatch an 89-81 victory from the hands of the Lady Chargers.  

“(The Lady Blazers) are competitive,” Lady Blazers Head Coach Kiley Hill said.  “They may get knocked down, but every individual on that team is always ready to get up and bounce back.”

After they shot only 8-29 from the field in the first half (27.6 percent), the Lady Blazers turned the tide in the second, connecting on 17 of 27 attempts (63 percent), while holding their opposition to 38.9 percent (14-36).

Leading the way was junior April Thomas. After going 1-6 shooting in the first half, she used a 22-point second half to turn the tide in the favor of the Lady Blazers.  

“April put us in position to gain tremendous momentum,” Coach Hill said.  “She laid the groundwork for so many other ladies to step up.  So many players stepped up and contributed to the win.  It was a tremendous effort.”

Junior Kourtnee Williams ended her night with 17 points and seven rebounds, while senior Kamiya Smith added 22 points.  Freshman Reshaundra Owens also made a major impact, finishing the night with 16 points (7-10 shooting) along with five rebounds and one block.

The Lady Blazers’ victory was a special one for Coach Hill, as it gave him his 250th win as head coach.

Both teams will see their next action on the road, as they head to Florence, Ala. to square off against the Lions of the University of North Alabama in what will be the first game of a four-game road trip.  The Lady Blazers are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m., with the Blazers scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.

1
Text Only
Blazers Blog
  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • Bubba Walker promoted to defensive coordinator

    Valdosta State Linebacker Coach Bubba Walker has been promoted to fill the open posiiton of defensive coordinator for the Blazer football team according to an announcement made by VSU Head Coach David Dean Thursday.

    July 18, 2014

  • Albritton wins NCAA Elite 89

    Courtney Albritton's tremendous 2013-2014 season earned her one more award Thursday night when the Valdosta State softball star won the NCAA's Favorite Elite 89 Winner contest by securing the more votes than any other student-athlete.

    July 17, 2014

  • Justin Roper named Valdosta State quarterbacks coach

    Valdosta State’s hirin of Justin Roper as quarterbacks coach, previously reported by The Times, was officially announced by the school and Blazer head football coach David Dean on Wednesday.

    July 17, 2014

  • Albritton.JPG VSU’s Albritton advances to finals of Elite 89 contest

    Another round, another first-place finish for Valdosta State’s Courtney Albritton.
    Albritton, the Blazers’ junior softball standout, was the leading vote-getter in the semifinal round of the NCAA’s Favorite Elite 89 winner contest with 1,483 votes in the two-day semifinal round that included 30 athletes. In the week-long first round, Albritton racked up 1,971 votes to lead the 89-person field.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Albritton in first place after opening round of Elite 89 voting

    July 14, 2014

  • Justin_Roper.JPG Roper to coach Blazers’ QBs

    Valdosta State has added an assistant coach to its staff, but it isn’t to fill Seth Wallace’s role.
    Former Oregon quarterback and University of Findlay running backs coach Justin Roper has been hired as the Blazers’ quarterbacks coach.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Div II Championship F_Rodg(11).jpg Beyond Sports Network releases 2014 preseason All-GSC football team

    Football season is right around the corner; exactly 57 days from now Valdosta State set to open its season at home against Albany State, but fans were able to satisfy his or her football withdraws on Tuesday when Beyond Sports Network released its Gulf South Conference preseason All-Conference team.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1966690_10201768896480524_387489323_n.jpg Dominique Wheeler showing confidence as NFL rookie

    Dominique Wheeler slowly made a name for himself during his four-year career as a Valdosta State Blazer. Playing at the cornerback position, Wheeler had to wait his turn to start at the position. However by the time he ended his senior year, he had played in 45 games, including nine starts his senior season.

    July 7, 2014 2 Photos

Local Sports
Choose your subscription: