Heartland Conference Tournament Preview

 

Friday, March 7

Semifinal 1: #1 UAFS vs. #4 University of Texas - Permian Basin (UTPB) 5:30pm

Semifinal 2: #2 Texas A&M International (TAMIU) vs. #3 St. Mary’s 7:30pm

Saturday, March 8

Heartland Conference Championship: Semifinal 1 Winner vs. Semifinal 2 Winner 4:00pm

 

Team Previews:

#4 UTPB Falcons

Record: 16-10, 10-8

Key Players: Dwayne Soders F, Thomas Feeney G, Anthony Dees G

Key Wins: at TAMIU, at Lubbock Christian

Previous game(s) vs. UAFS: UAFS defeated UTPB 83-80 on the road.

 

UTPB is led by a quintet of double-digit scorers as they average 82.2 points per game on the season. Dwayne Soders leads the way with 16 points per game and also grabs 9.1 rebounds per game, which ranks him 4th and 2nd in the conference respectively. Next in line is Thomas Feeney who averages 15.1 points per game and has also dished out 99 assists on the year. The other three in double digits are Anthony Dees (12.9 ppg), Phadarius Taylor (12.7 ppg), and Madison Tuner (11.7 ppg). Keith Martin is also a key contributor as he averages 8.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game. UTPB is coming off of a 95-94 loss against McMurry.

Record vs. HC Tournament Teams: 1-4

 

#3 St. Mary’s Rattlers

Record: 19-7, 12-6

Key Players: Marvin Binney G, Marvin Whitt G, Justin Alexander C

Key Wins: Central Missouri, Emporia State, UAFS, at TAMIU, TAMIU

Previous game(s) vs. UAFS: UAFS defeated St. Mary’s 82-71 at home.

UAFS lost to St. Mary’s 96-89 on the road.

 

St. Mary’s, the winner of the last two Heartland Conference Tournaments, is right in the mix of things again. The Rattlers have been led by JUCO transfer Marvin Whitt and DI transfer Marvin Binney. Whitt, a junior, has been the team’s offensive threat, averaging 13.3 points per game. Binney has also been efficient averaging 11.3 points per game. Justin Alexander, 6’11 center, holds the post down (8.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Rattlers are coming off a 74-65 double-overtime win over TAMIU.

Record vs. HC Tournament Teams: 5-1

 

#2 TAMIU Dustdevils

Record: 20-8, 13-5

Key Players: Jordan Clark F, Johnel Grey G, Kevin Jefferson Jr. G, Matthew Culliver, Jr. G

Key Wins: at Rogers State, UAFS, at Lubbock Christian, at UTPB

Previous game(s) vs. UAFS: UAFS defeated TAMIU 66-63 at home.

UAFS lost to TAMIU 71-69 on the road.

 

TAMIU was out in front of the Heartland Conference for nearly the whole season until UAFS took over late. The Dustdevils, like UTPB, are led by a quintet of double-digit scorers. A senior laden squad, TAMIU depends heavily on the play of Jordan Clark, Johnel Grey, Damal Donaldson, Kevin Jefferson Jr., and Matthew Culliver Jr. Clark, a high-flyer, leads all scorers with 12.6 points per game. Johnel Grey might just be their biggest offensive weapon (12.0 ppg, 42.3FG%). Jefferson Jr. has provided the Dustdevils with some late game heroics as he hit a game winner against UAFS in mid-December. Just like most teams, TAMIU plays through their senior point guard, Matthew Culliver Jr. Although his scoring is down this season (9.9 ppg), he is averaging 4.8 assists per game. Faniel and Donaldson as well as Breedlove and Trotter also contribute.

Record vs. HC Tournament Teams: 2-4

 

#1 UAFS Lions

Record: 21-5, 14-4

Key Players: Jake Toupal G, Seth Youngblood G, Kenny Martin F

Key Wins: at Missouri Southern, TAMIU, St. Mary’s, at UTPB

 

The Lions finished the season as Heartland regular season champs and earned the right to host the tournament after TAMIU’s double-overtime loss to St. Mary’s. The Lions have had a very successful season so far. Senior Jake Toupal and freshman Seth Youngblood average 14.5 points per game each. Kenny Martin averages 10.2 points per game and grabs 7.3 rebounds per game while leading the team in blocks with 44. Freshman point guard Alex Cooper has been a key contributor (9.4 ppg, 81 assists) and senior point guard Xavier McClish averages 8.0 points per game and has dished out a team-high 95 assists. Junior forward Miha Glavas has played very well as of late averaging 8.9 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game over the last 10 games. The Lions are undefeated at home on the year (14-0) and are averaging 98.3 points per game over the last 3 games.

Record vs. HC Tournament Teams: 3-2

Credits: 
Derek Hill
Date Posted: 
Thursday, March 6, 2014