Three days. Three victories. One championship banner.
After finishing the regular season with an 11-19 record, Truett-McConnell reeled off three consecutive wins on March 5-7, claiming first place in the NCCAA South Regional.
The Bears began the tournament with a 96-84 win over Pensecola Christian College before upsetting Carver Bible College in the semifinals and Emmanuel College in the championship game.
Guard Anthony Dorsey's aggressive play and shooting prowess helped the Bears declaw the Lions. Photo / Norm Miller
"It means so much to be able to win this tournament," TMC guard Anthony Dorsey said. "Honestly, I can't even describe how much this means. We're a young team, so it's taken a while for us to learn how to win. But in this tournament, everything came together."
Prior to the title game, Emmanuel had beaten the Bears twice during the regular season, including a 65-62 victory in Cleveland on Feb. 2.
But with a spot in the NCCAA National Tournament at stake, Truett-McConnell got revenge.
Paced by a combined 44 points from Roderick Bombard and Dorsey, TMC led by as many as 15 points in the opening half before holding on for a 82-81 victory.
"Emmanuel beat us twice during the regular season, but I never thought they were better than us," Dorsey said. "They just knew how to win. But this time around, we proved that we're the better team."
Added TMC head coach Wade Mawdesley: "During the past few seasons, Emmanuel has been one of the upper-eshalon teams in our conference, so to be able to beat them is a great step for our program. I'm so proud of our guys, and being able to win the NCCAA South Regional really means a lot."
POST-WIN JUBILATION: A picture is worth a thousand smiles, or at least a few: one from Bernard Nugent (left) and from Dustin Jeffords (right). Photo / Norm Miller
In addition to the play of Bombard and Dorsey, Bernard Nugent and Dustin Jeffords also reached double figures with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
"Overall, I felt like this was one of the best games we've played all season," Mawdesley said. "Anthony (Dorsey) really hit some big shots in the first half, and I couldn't be more proud of our guys for pulling through at the end. We've had some difficulty closing games this year, but we've grown a lot since the beginning of the year."
The NCCAA men's national tournament will be held March 14-17, at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.
Doug Stutsman is sports writer for White County News(paper).