No. 2 Hawks hold off No. 16 Lee to log school record 27th win
By Matt Green
ROME -- In his last game, Chad Warner achieved a milestone with his 100th win. Win No. 101 came with a little more history.
Dante Harvey had 16 points and 13 rebounds, Anthony Banks added 16 points and eight boards and No. 2 Shorter held off a late charge from 16th-ranked Lee to score a 61-55 victory in a Southern States Athletic Conference East Division matchup at the Winthrop-King Centre Thursday night.
With the win, Shorter improves to 27-2 overall and 16-1 in the SSAC. The 27 victories are the most ever for Shorter's men's basketball program, surpassing the 26 wins achieved by the 1964-65 men's squad. Shorter also swept Lee (19-7, 13-5) for the first time under Warner, who had led Shorter to splits with the Flames in each of the past two seasons.
But this season has been unlike any other in Shorter history. The Hawks have already pocketed their first regular season conference championship since 1977 and will be the East Division's No. 1 seed in next week's SSAC Tournament. Shorter has also risen to the nation's No. 1 ranking for the first time ever -- a position they have held for four weeks this season -- and put on a No. 1 worthy effort in a slugfest between two rugged conference rivals.
Shorter led wire-to-wire and maintained a rather comfortable lead throughout. The Hawks were up by as much as 13 in the first half, taking a 21-8 lead on C.J. Davis' floater with 7:31 left until hafltime that capped a 9-0 Shorter run.
The Hawks were up nine at the break and quickly built a 20-point lead in the second half behind a 17-2 spurt powered by eight points from Banks.
Lee went to work and got the lead under 10 points on a 3 by Ryan Westbrooks and a Duran Blue field goal with 4:47 to play. Shorter's lead dwindled to five when Tyrone Caldwell drilled a trey with 44 seconds left, but Shorter's Walter Hill made 5 of 6 from the foul line in the final minute to close out the Flames.
Hill left the game early in the first half with two fouls and never really got into a rhythm. The junior, who was honored prior to the game for surpassing 1,000 career points in Shorter's last outing against Brewton-Parker, made only 1 of 10 from the floor and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Although he scored just seven points, Hill was menacing on the defensive end, limiting Lee sharpshooter and second-leading scorer Alex Wells to six points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Banks and Harvey picked up the slack offensively for Shorter. Harvey was an efficient 7-for-11 from the field, made two 3-pointers and pulled four offensive rebounds. Banks scored 13 of his points after halftime to help Shorter build its large lead and snagged five offensive rebounds of his own to just miss out on a double-double.
Kenny Leverette had eight points and six rebounds -- four offensive -- and added two steals. Shorter snared 19 offensive rebounds for the game and forced Lee into 28 turnovers and 21 percent (4-for-19) shooting from 3. Caldwell paced Lee with 13 points.
The Hawks close out the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 25 as they travel to Cleveland, Ga., for a 4 pm tip against Truett-McConnell.