BRISTOL, Tenn. – Brian Hewitt and four fellow seniors ended the regular season on a winning note with a 56-50 victory over the Erskine College Flying Fleet, Friday night. Hewitt shaped the Senior Night show with 19 points, helping King break away toward victory in the final five minutes.
Post game audio (.mp3)
Senior guard, Brian Hewitt - click here
King (22-6, 14-2) and Erskine jostled for rights to the lead throughout the second half, trading three-point blows on each side. Down three points, senior guards Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) and Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) hit back-to-back field goals to take back the lead. Hewitt's three ball from the left wing at the 6:04 mark of the second half started a momentum shift toward the King bench and gave the Tornado a two-point advantage, 46-44.
The Tornado extended its lead when Eddie Piccinini pit pocketed Casey Sorrell and hit Goss on a fast break to the bucket to make it a four-point King lead. The Navy and Scarlett kept piling it on after Filip Pejovic missed an open three-point attempt that turned into two more points for Hewitt and the Tornado, making for a 50-44 advantage.
Erskine would not go away as their three-point shooting late in the contest kept them in the game. Corey Sorrell hit a three with 3:24 to go, prompting a King timeout. The Tornado regrouped and after senior Brent Thomas (Elizabethton, Tenn.) hit the front end of two free throw attempts, continued their three-point shootout battle.
On Erskine's next drive, Filip Pejovic hit a three from the top of the key to bring the Fleet within one point, but senior Brian Hewitt answered back with his third long-range make from the left wing to regain the four point edge. Pejovic had another opportunity with a wide open look from distance, but missed the shot where Goss brought down the board. After swapping misses, Erskine thwarted another opportunity when DeShaun Hall lost the handle of the ball. Hewitt scooped it up and began the countdown to the final horn.
King came out of the gate hot, taking an 8-2 lead over the Fleet in the opening 3:06 of the contest. Erskine replied with an 8-2 run of their own before both teams cooled down to finish the half at modest shooting totals. The Tornado finished shooting 30.9 percent from the field as a team where the visitors shot at a higher clip but committed 11 turnovers to King's three, resulting in 10 Tornado points.
Hewitt lead the Tornado with 19 points in the regular season finale. He hit 6-of-13 shots, three from behind the arc, and went 4-of-5 from the charity stripe to continue him past the 1,000-point barrier that he eclipsed with his last bucket in a loss to Pfeiffer University earlier in the week. He now has 1,021 career points in his three-year career with the Tornado.
Brandon Goss continued to add to his team-leading assist numbers, totaling five in the win over The Fleet while putting together 12 points and six rebounds. Fellow senior Lio Gedeon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) banged down low with 11 boards and three points.
With the win, King eliminates The Fleet from playoff contention. Having already clinched the West Division and owning the No. 1 seed in the division, the Tornado earned first round hosting rights through the first two rounds of the playoffs, at least. They will begin their quest for their first-ever Conference Carolinas Tournament title when they host the Coker College Cobras (14-12, 8-8), who come off an 88-74 win over Pfeiffer University to close their season out.
The Tornado will host the Cobras on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. from the Student Center Complex in Conference Carolinas Tournament first round action. The winner will go on to play the victor of the Mount Olive (No. 2 East) / Lees-McRae (No. 3 West) matchup at the higher seed's home court.
Men's Quarterfinals hosted by Highest Seed (7pm start times)
Game 1: No. 4 West: North Greenville @ No. 1 East: Queens
Game 2: No. 3 East: Barton @ No. 2 West: Belmont Abbey
Game 3: No. 3 West: Lees-McRae @ No. 2 East: Mount Olive
Game 4: No. 4 East: Coker @ No. 1 West: King
Note: NGU wins 3-way tie with Erskine and Limestone with 3-5 in-division record (EC & LC were 2-6 within division)
To follow all Conference Carolinas Tournament action through the league website, click here.