Through 30 games, the Blinn men’s basketball team has nearly seen it all: blowout wins, one-point losses, win by forfeit and late-game collapses.
But it’s those experiences that coach Scott Schumacher hopes the Buccaneers will use as they begin a run at the Region XIV Conference championship on Tuesday.
“The whole season prepares you for the region tournament—every situation, whether positive or negative,” Schumacher said.
Through their rollercoaster season, the eighth-seeded Buccaneers ended the regular season on a positive note with a 63-58 win over Coastal Bend. Now they hope to carry that momentum into their opening game of the region tournament against ninth seed Tyler Tuesday at 1 p.m. The game and the tournament can be followed live here.
“It feels good to get that win because it’s almost like it put a good aura around the team,” sophomore guard Jourdan Stickler said. “You always want to see if you can get into a good rhythm going into the tournament.”
The Bucs are getting more than a rhythm heading into Tuesday’s game; they also get their two leading scorers back in Macari Brooks and Lionheart Leslie. Both sustained ankle injuries in late February, but Schumacher said they’re ready for Tuesday.
Brooks is the Bucs’ leading scorer, averaging more than 20 points per game.
Blinn opens the tournament against a Tyler squad it beat 77-60 at home in January. Brooks scored a game-high 23 points while Leslie contributed 14. The Bucs played stingy on defense and disrupted Tyler’s offense and forced it into 25 turnovers. But in that game, Tyler was playing without its leading scorer, Dominique Shaw, who was out with an ankle injury. Shaw has since returned to help lead Tyler to three wins in its final five games, including a win over Paris, the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Shaw, a freshman guard, is averaging 18 points a game this season. He’s accompanied by guards Todd Eaglin, who’s dropping nearly 16 a game, and Faith Pope, who averages 12 points a contest.
“It’s always hard to beat a team twice in a season,” freshman point guard Jalan McCloud said. “We’ve got to stay focused.”
Through all their tribulations, the Bucs do find positives, especially when it comes to their late-season injuries.
“That allowed some of our guys off the bench to step up and play more of a prominent role,” McCloud said, who’s been one of those players. “It boosts our confidence.”
McCloud played a big role in helping the Bucs clinch the tournament’s eight seed. With Blinn still battling for seeding with Jacksonville and Angelina in February, McCloud scored a season-high 27 points against Jacksonville, and following a 20-point game in a loss to Lee, he scored 19 against Angelina to ensure that Blinn could finish no worse than the ninth seed.
McCloud is averaging 9.2 points and three assists per game this season.
“It’s tournament time,” freshman guard Jacoby Green said. “We’re feeling good and we’re hoping to go in and start a run to a regional championship.”
For more information on Blinn men’s basketball, visit the Bucs Website here.