By Russell Moore
The Cullman Times
Wallace State men’s basketball coach John Meeks expects his cell phone to be flooded with text messages late tonight after his team plays rival Shelton State.
“I’m going to get hundreds (of messages) asking what the final score was. This game is always a big deal and the measuring stick for basketball in the Alabama Community College Conference. This is the game of the week and usually one of the games of the year,” Meeks said. “People want to know if we have a chance to win the conference title again. There is obviously still a long way to go, but we’re excited to see where we stand. We know Shelton State will be licking its chops after we won the title last season on their home floor.”
Both Wallace State teams host Shelton State today at Tom Drake Coliseum, beginning with the women’s game at 5:30 p.m.
The Lions’ men’s team is the defending state champion after reeling off four wins in four days last season at the ACCC/Region 22 tournament. Wallace State defeated Shelton State in the championship game by two points, avenging two regular-season losses to the Bucs.
The Lions (13-8, 1-3 ACCC) picked up their first conference win this season on Monday night, defeating Southern Union 70-60 after losing their three previous games by only six points combined. Wallace State led the entire way against Southern Union, scooting out to a 16-9 lead in the first eight minutes and a 38-29 advantage at halftime.
Freshman guard Jestin Lewis poured in 20 points in the Southern Union victory, Jacquise Moore scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half and the bench contributed 24 points.
“Our conference schedule is brutal. We’ve been so close for a week, so I had to keep emphasizing that we were just one play away from winning those games. Our guys are beginning to accept their roles and holding each other accountable,” Meeks said. “Sean Anthony has been great and is playing very well for us at point guard, and Jestin Lewis has been very tough for opponents to handle. He’s a great player and competitor and wants to be the guy making the big shots.”
Shelton State’s men are 15-5 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
Just like the men’s side, the women’s conference championship is usually decided between the two rivals.
The Lady Lions (15-6, 2-1 ACCC) have won six of their last seven games, earning their second conference win Monday against Southern Union with a 77-60 victory.
Sophomore Ashley Nance finished with a double-double, pouring in 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. Jasmine Coleman added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Lions, and Jaylan Snowden contributed 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Wallace State, the conference tournament runner-up last season, will host an undefeated Shelton State squad, ranked sixth nationally at 22-0 overall.
“Shelton State is a quality team and has been for years. It seems it comes down to us and Shelton State for the state championship every year,” women’s coach Ron Burdette said. “I know it’s easier to be the hunter than the hunted, so we’ve got to pop them in the mouth early and see what happens.
“We took a punch in the gut last week on the road, but I believe winning cures all ills. We’re glad to be going into this game with some momentum.”