Photo Courtesy of Jacob Turner
BANNER ELK, N.C. – Fresh off its first postseason victory in program history, the Lees-McRae College men's basketball team will check another first off the list this weekend as it will host the Conference Carolinas men's basketball semifinals and finals at Williams Gymnasium. The semifinal round will take place Saturday with game one being between No. 8 Belmont Abbey against No. 5 Limestone at 2 p.m. before the second-ranked Bobcats take on No. 3 seed Barton at 4 p.m. The two winners will advance to Sunday's championship game with the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament at stake. Tip-off for the championship game is set for 2 p.m.
Last Time Out – LMC picked up an 86-78 victory over No. 7 seed Erskine Tuesday night in Banner Elk in the conference tournament's quarterfinal round. The win boosts LMC's record on the season to 21-8 overall.
Home Court Advantage – Lees-McRae will have a built in advantage this weekend as the semifinals and championship game will be played on its home floor. LMC is 13-2 this season in Banner Elk with those two losses coming to nation's top ranked team Lincoln Memorial in the season opener and the Conference Carolinas regular season champion King University in the regular season finale.
Balance Bobcats strike again – The victory Tuesday was another case of balance being key for the Bobcats. Five different players finished the night in double figures against the Flying Fleet. Jordan Turner led all scorers with 20 points, while Lepreece Lynch notched 16 points. Josh Gaither scored a season-high 12 points, and the duo of Quay Kimble and Kamil Williams both added 11 points each.
Players to Watch – In Lees-McRae's matchup Saturday against Barton, a couple players to watch for LMC are Lynch and Jason Saintizaire. Lynch is averaging 19.5 points per game versus Barton in the two prior matchups, and Saintizaire is not far behind averaging 18.0 points.
Tournament Rewind – In addition to LMC's win over Erskine in the quarterfinals, the other three results went as follows: No. 8 Belmont Abbey defeated No. 1 King, 82-74, No. 3 Barton defeated No. 6 North Greenville, 91-74 and No. 5 Limestone knocked off No. 4 Mount Olive, 81-79. The final four in this year's tournament has a somewhat different look than in years past. LMC is making its first appearance in the event, while Belmont Abbey has not made the second round of the tournament since the 2012-13 season. Limestone and Barton, meanwhile, were involved in the event last season with the Saints taking home the title.
LMC versus teams left in the tournament in 2017-18 – The Bobcats are a combined 4-2 against the teams left in the tournament field this season. LMC won both games against the Crusaders, while splitting the season series against both Barton and Limestone. However, the Bobcats came out on top both times that the Saints and Bulldogs visited Banner Elk.