Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

January 24, 2013

Lady Blazers, Blazers return home tonight

VALDOSTA — After playing five of their first seven conference games to begin the season on the road, the Valdosta State basketball teams return home tonight, to begin a four-game home stand.

The Lady Blazers will host Christian Brothers at 6 p.m., with the men’s game following at 8 p.m. tonight from VSU’s P.E. Complex.

The games mark the first home games for either Valdosta State team since Jan. 5, when they both hosted Shorter.

Since the last home games, both teams went 1-2 on their longest-road trip of the season.

Tonight, both teams are happy to be back home in the friendly confines of The Complex.

“It is nice to be back home,” Valdosta State men’s coach Mike Helfer said. “It is nice to play in front of our own fans, but I don’t think that really guarantees you anything. It does make you more comfortable, but you still have to play 40 minutes.”

During the road trip, both teams faced plenty of adversity. The Lady Blazers were routed in the second half of their games at West Georgia and West Alabama; they were outscored by a combined 75-39 in the second half of the two games.

Then last weekend, the Lady Blazers edged out a 62-59 win over West Florida, ending the two-game losing streak, beating the winless Argonauts.  

“We played probably some of the most consistent-level of play on Saturday, even though it was a touch-and-go basketball game,” Lady Blazers head coach Kiley Hill said. “We responded very well, in some very adverse situations.”

With the win over West Florida, the Lady Blazers are now one win away from moving back to .500 in league play, which they can get tonight against the struggling Lady Bucs, who enter with the second-worst record in the league.  

“We talk about the process and what we have to do,” Hill said, when asked about the importance of tonight’s game. “We don’t talk about what other teams do. You have to do your job and your role. That is where the wins and losses will come from.”

On the men’s side, the Blazers lost to West Georgia before pulling out a come-from-behind win over West Alabama in overtime. Then, in a must-win scenario last weekend, the Blazers trailed by 21 points in the first half to West Florida, eventually climbing back into the game to lose 99-93.

“Give a lot of credit to West Florida,” Helfer said. “They made a lot of shots in the first half. They got us on our heels. But give credit to our guys in the second half for making a huge run and get it back within three points. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”

One key to the Blazers’ comeback was the play of guard Patrick Diop, who finished with a game-high 38 points in the loss.

“I think (Diop) has played really well,” Helfer said. “But it has not been designed for one guy to separate themselves in the scoring column. We would rather do it by committee.”

Now as the Blazers move forward tonight and in the coming weeks, and as the conference tournament approaches in early March, Helfer said he still believes his team’s best basketball is ahead.

“That is one thing about our team this year — they’re extremely competitive,” Helfer said. “They have a ‘never say die’ attitude. We have lost some very tough ball games, but our kids have not lost focus. I still think, hopefully, we will be playing our best basketball at the end of February. It is a learning process for this group and we still have a long way to go, a lot of basketball to play.”

Tonight’s games against Christian Brothers will be followed up against games against Delta State on Saturday. The Lady Blazers will play at 11:30 a.m. and the Blazers at 2 p.m. The games will air nationally on CBS College Sports Network as the Division II Games of the Week.

“It is a great honor that the NCAA chose our program to be exposed on national television,” Hill said. “I think that shows the level of consistency that we’ve had over the years. There is a respect-level across the board. Now, of course, Delta State is second to none. For us, to be on that same playing field, is a great honor.”

During tonight’s games, Valdosta State’s athletic department will honor the 2012 national championship football team. The first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a free national championship poster, courtesy of Gander Mountain and Valdosta State athletics.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0728-Lowndes practice4.jpg Vikings working out with padded practice, scrimmage on the horizon

    The look was familiar Monday at Martin Stadium.
    The Lowndes High football team’s conditioning practice was essentially a duplicate of the workouts the Vikings have completed throughout the summer.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thomasville_Ryals.jpg South Georgia special for high school coaches

    Phillip Johnson remembers when he had a “Wizard of Oz” moment.
    The North Carolina native moved to Georgia when he was 26 and Johnson, now Lanier County’s second-year head coach, recalls a 7-on-7 tournament leading to the realization that he wasn’t in Kansas — or in his case, North Carolina — anymore.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

Blazers Blog