Valdosta Daily Times

Blazers Blog

February 24, 2013

Blazers get big GSC win

VALDOSTA — Needing a victory to help strengthen a resume for a NCAA postseason berth, the Valdosta State men’s basketball team couldn’t afford a loss Saturday night against West Florida.

The Blazers came about as close to a loss as they could before using a massive run to close out the second half to force overtime, where they did everything they could to earn the win.

Using a combined 56 points from seniors Josh Sparks and James Anacreon and junior Patrick Diop, the Blazers closed out the home portion of their schedule with an 86-81 overtime-victory over the Argonauts.

“It was a big win for multiple reasons,” Valdosta State head coach Mike Helfer said. “Not only for the ramifications it could have down the line, but for senior night and to get our seniors out on a winning note. It was awfully nice. It was a great game.”

While it meant something to the seniors, Saturday’s impact win will be better known for how it might affect the region rankings, which will be released for the second time this season on Tuesday.

Even if the Blazers aren’t ranked inside the top eight this week, victories over Christian Brothers and Delta State on the road next weekend and possible victories in the Gulf South Conference tournament in two weeks could help strengthen their resume.

“The region rankings came out the other day and we weren’t even in the top 10 and these are all region games,” Sparks said. “So hopefully if we win out we will get an at-large bid. We needed this. It was big….We can only get better. We have to keep going up.”

Led by Sparks’ seven overtime points, the Blazers outscored West Florida 13-8 in the overtime period, using a quick 6-0 run to erase the Argonauts’ only lead of the extra period.

Sparks finished with a team-high 20 points,   coming in his final home game at The Complex, while Diop finished with 18 and Anacreon 16.

“I just thought we were looking for some success offensively and we weren’t sure where we were going to find it,” Helfer said. “We struggled in the first half and then we found success in those three guys, so we continued to go to them.”

Valdosta State erased a 14-point second-half deficit to force overtime by using a 26-13 run inside the final nine minutes of regulation. They trailed 61-47 with 9:28 remaining, the Argonauts’ largest lead of the day, before the making the commanding run that brought the crowd to life.

“They hit a three and had all the momentum and then Shaquille Harris hit a three that I thought saved the crowd, kept the crowd in it,” Helfer said. “Then we got a couple of steals and some run-up layups and that were big.”

Harris’ three kept the crowd in the game, but the Argonauts were able to push their lead to 14. Then, Anacreon saved the crowd again. He scored six straight points, capped off by a thunderous dunk, that kick-started the Blazers’ 26-13 run — including a 19-5 run to give the Blazers’ their only lead of the second half, which came off another Harris 3-pointer — to closeout the half and force the overtime period.

“Our energy was high, the crowd was behind us and we just started playing really hard,” Anacreon said.

Although Valdosta State was able to take the lead once, West Florida stayed poised and regained the lead. With less than 30 seconds remaining, the Argonauts led 73-70, when Anacreon went to work. Coming off a Sparks miss, Anacreon snatched the rebound, threw the ball off the glass, got a foul call and watched the ball roll in for the possibility of a 3-point play.

“I was basically telling myself, ‘I am going to make it,’” Anacreon said. “I wasn’t worried about it.”

Anacreon made the free throw to tie the game at 73-73 with 14.3 seconds remaining.

After a timeout by West Florida, the Blazers blocked a potential game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to force the game into overtime.

West Florida dominated the opening part of the second half to build its big lead. The Argonauts’ lead was in double digits for much of the half. Even when the Blazers got within nine, the Argonauts would hit a big shot to push their lead back to 10 or more.

One shot the Argonauts relied on during the second half was the 3-point ball. Despite making only 61 three’s on the season entering the game, West Florida made five three’s in the second half, including four during their dominating run.

The first half was much closer than the start of the second. Neither team led by more than four points in a half that consisted of nine ties and five lead changes.

The Blazers’ final lead of the half came on a David Murray layup with 8:16 remaining. West Florida took the lead back with a layup from Griffin Lendward with 6:35 remaining in the half.

From there, the Blazers could only tie the game twice, before West Florida blew the game open in the second half, until VSU’s commanding run with less than 10 minutes remaining.

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: