Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 6, 2014

Tournament Time

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State opens play in the 2014 Raymond James Gulf South Conference Tournament today at 6:30 p.m. when the Blazers face off against West Alabama.

Valdosta State enters the event as the No. 7 seed while the Tigers are the No. 2 seed. VSU tallied a 15-11 record on the season, including a 9-11 mark in GSC play. This year's tournament marks the 20th time that VSU has played in the GSC Tournament, where it has compiled a 14-19 record over the years.

The Blazers and UWA split a pair of games this year, with each team winning on its home court. VSU struck first as it defeated West Alabama 93-83 in The Complex on Jan. 4 while the Tigers rebounded for a 72-68 win in Livingston, Ala. on Feb. 6.

Blazer Head Coach Mike Helfer has led Valdosta State to the GSC Tournament in each of his nine seasons, having compiled an 8-8 record over the course of the previous eight years.

Helfer has directed the Blazers to a pair of tournament championship games, including last year when the club entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed.

VSU defeated No. 5 Delta State in the first round and No. 1 Alabama-Huntsville in the semifinals before falling 65-62 to No. 2 Christian Brothers in the title game.

Only three players on the Valdosta State roster have previously played in the GSC Tournament. David Murray appeared in all three games last year and was named to the All-Tournament team as he scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds in the first two games of the event. Murray scored four points in the first six minutes of the championship game before going down to an injury that kept him out of the remainder of the game.

Meanwhile, Colin Cook saw limited time in all three games a year ago while Dylan Nsiah played sparingly in the championship game versus CBU.

This season, Valdosta State enters the tournament averaging 77.0 points per game while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor. The Blazers take care of the ball, a must in tournament play, as they commit just 11.3 turnovers per game, and lead the Gulf South Conference in blocked shots with 3.7 per outing.

Scouting the West Alabama

After going just .500 in its non-conference slate, West Alabama caught fire in Gulf South Conference play as the Tigers tallied a 14-6 league record and finished second in the GSC standings.

UWA currently has five players averaging double figures in points, led by Desmond Raymond, who averages 17.3 points and has dished out 94 assists on the season.

Sandy Underwood adds 16.3 points a contest while Jared Woolfolk add 13.6. Jarell Byrd and Lleon Tillman each score more than 11 points a game, with Tillman adding 8.7 rebounds per contest as well.

The Tigers are a good shooting squad as the team connects on 47.6 percent of its shots from the floor, including 35.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc. UWA also takes care of the ball as it commits fewer than 11 turnovers a game, although the Tigers don't force many turnovers either as opponents average just 10.8 per contest.

West Alabama is also second in the conference, behind only the Blazers, in blocked shots with 92 on the season.

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