by John Karrs
WILSON, N.C. – The Barton men's basketball team will open its 2018-19 season this weekend by hosting its annual 45 Second Classic at Wilson Gymnasium. The Bulldogs, under 23-year mentor Ron Lievense, will host Georgia Southwestern on Friday (7:00 p.m.) and Augusta on Saturday beginning at 1:00 p.m. Mount Olive will take on Augusta (Friday at 5:00 p.m.) and Georgia Southwestern (Saturday at 11:00 a.m.) in the other two games of the classic in back-to-back doubleheaders.
The Bulldogs return all five starters from a squad which finished 17-13 overall and 12-6 in Conference Carolinas play last season, good for a third-place tie in the league regular season standings. Senior forward Bobby Stenborg (Garner, N.C.) and junior forward Isaiah Buck-Lowman (Woodbridge, Va.) were all-league honorees last season. Stenborg led the team in both points scored (16.7 ppg) and rebounding (5.9 rpg) while Buck-Lowman averaged 13.5 points per contest.
Barton also welcomes back junior guard Michael Boykin (Clinton, N.C.), the 2016-17 Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year. Boykin averaged 12.4 points per contest last season. The Bulldogs, picked in a first-place tie in this year's preseason league coaches poll, put up a valiant effort but fell to Clemson by an 89-80 score in an exhibition on Thursday, November 1, in Clemson, S.C.
The Trojans (17-12, 12-6) were picked third in the 2018-19 Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches Poll. Mount Olive returns a pair of starters – Cameron Robinson (Woodbridge, Va.) and Jamaal Matin (Virginia Beach, Va.) – who averaged 12.6 points and 11.6 points per game, respectively. Martin was named the 2017-18 Conference Carolinas Defensive Player of the Year.
Mount Olive played North Carolina in an exhibition contest on the newly-named Roy Williams Court on Friday, November 2, a 107-64 setback. The Trojans are coached by Joey Higginbotham, who is entering his 11th season as mentor.
The Hurricanes were picked fifth in the Peach Belt Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Georgia Southwestern does return four starters from last year's squad including R.J. Sessions (Columbus, Ga.). Sessions led the team in scoring (15.3 ppg) and earned preseason all-league honors. Georgia Southwestern looks to improve on last year's 13-14 mark (9-13 in Peach Belt Conference play).
The Jaguars are coming off a monumental upset – 77-72 over South Carolina – in an exhibition on Friday, October 26, in Columbia, S.C. Augusta, a long-time NCAA Division II powerhouse, was picked third in the 2018-19 Peach Belt Preseason Head Coaches Poll.
Augusta (16-13, 13-9 in conference play) returns three of its top five scorers from last year including Deane Williams (Bristol, ENGLAND). Williams, an All-Peach Belt Conference preseason honoree, was second on the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) and led the squad in rebounding (8.1 rpg). The Jaguars are led by 15-year mentor Dip Metress, who has 310 victories as Augusta's Head Coach.
45 Second Classic
Wilson, N.C. (Wilson Gymnasium)
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9
Mount Olive vs. Augusta, 5:00 p.m.
Georgia Southwestern at Barton, 7:00 p.m.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10
Mount Olive vs. Georgia Southwestern, 11:00 a.m.
Augusta at Barton, 1:00 p.m.