Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
With a berth in the Alabama Community College Conference Tournament at stake, the Gadsden State men’s basketball team earned a trip to Bay Minette on Saturday (Feb. 28) with a 68-62 victory over Bishop State in a postseason play-in game at GSCC.
The Cardinals (19-11, 7-4) will face Chattahoochee Valley on Thursday (Mar. 5) at 5 p.m. in the tournament quarterfinals at Faulkner State.
Gadsden State came out running and gunning en route to a 17-point halftime lead but had to hold on for dear life as the Wildcats (9-18, 4-10) made a furious comeback.
“We were lucky to win in missing 22 free throws, but we had a good defensive effort,” said GSCC head coach Todd Ginn. “We played solid defense, and that allowed us to build a big lead.
Gadsden State wound up shooting 40.5 percent (15-for-37) at the foul line.
“Free throws are such a mental thing,” said Ginn. “We struggled at the line early and we had a snowball effect. But our kids know that, and we had a lot of pressure on us in this game against a team we really didn’t know much about. Our guys played really hard like they usually do; we just didn’t have enough time to prepare them.”
Gadsden State went ahead 9-0 early on when Pat Edmonds buried three 3-pointer baskets in the game’s first minute. The fast start was what the Cardinals needed and they never looked back.
Edmonds scored 16 of his game high 23 points in the first 20 minutes as Gadsden State built a 41-23 halftime lead. He finished with four 3-point baskets while contributing eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Jacob Gibson scored eight of his 15 points in the opening 20 minutes of play while chipping in four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Darius Bush also scored in double figures with 10 points while adding eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
Jeremiah Haynes, Paul Johnson, Marcelle Jackson and Christian Hutchinson all scored six points. Jackson and Hutchinson grabbed seven and six rebounds, respectively.
The teams continued to run and gun throughout the second half, with Gadsden State maintaining a double-digit lead. Bishop State cut it to 65-57 with 45 seconds to go on a 3-pointer by Chance Morton, but it was too little, too late.
Morton, who led the Wildcats with 19 points, hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final score 68-62.
The Cardinals split the season series with CVCC, falling to the Pirates, 65-61 on Dec. 4 and winning, 72-67 on Jan. 3.
“They’re a lot bigger than we are, which is pretty common,” said Ginn. “But we’re going to do what we do best, which is press them a lot, show them a lot of different looks and make it really tough for them on the defensive end. Our main focus is to keep them off the glass and limit second-chance opportunities. We’ll do a lot of the things we did the first two times we played them but give them one or two looks on defense that they haven’t seen.”