(photo credit: 10thyearseniors.com)
Yesterday, Coach Jim Crews and his young Billiken squad played in their second exhibition in the Bahamas against the PJ Stingers. Right before half, the Stingers hit a three at the buzzer to tie the game at 31. Junior Mike Crawford took off in the third quarter leading the Billikens to 49-46 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, the teams were neck and neck and a late lead with a score of 68-67. Then, the Billikens committed a foul sending the Stingers to the line with only 2 seconds remaining. The Stingers made the first free throw but missed the second. The Stingers were able to corral the rebound and lay it in beating the buzzer. The Stingers won the game 70-68.
After a lackluster performance in the first exhibition game, last year standout Milik Yarbrough led the team with 16 points. Freshman Elliott Welmer improved on last game success adding 11 points of his own. This is a great sign from the freshman constantly improving his game. This was not a great day of offensive production for the Billikens as they shot 1/18 (6%) from behind the arc. On defense, the Billikens held the Stingers to only shooting 37% from the field. The Billikens also dominated the glass outrebounding the Stingers, 46-21. Unfortunately, they were unable to grab the rebound that ultimately gave them the loss.
This afternoon, the Bills were in action in their final exhibition game. The Billikens were set for action against the Bahamas All Stars. In the first 10 minutes of the game, seven different Billiken players scored, which had the Billikens on top 24-11. At halftime, the Bills led the All-Stars 38-30. The Billikens were led in scoring by sophomore Miles Reynolds scored six points and freshman Elliott Welmer added five points.
At the start of the second half, sophomore Davell Roby stepped up with seven points as the Bills led 65-52 with 6:40 left in the game. In the closing seconds of the game, the All-Stars hit a buzzer beating three to tie the game at 70 and sent the game into overtime. The Billikens were able to pull away in OT thanks to a Miles Reynolds. He led the time with 16 points followed by junior Mike Crawford who added 13 points. Elliott Welmer had another excellent game tallying 9 points and leading the team with 9 rebounds.
Offensively, the Bills shot 44% from the field but still were poor in three-point shooting only shooting 24% from behind the arc. The Bills also failed to take care of the basketball turning over the basketball thirty time and leading to the All-Stars getting 30 points off the turnovers. Defensively, the Billikens held the All-Stars to shooting only 34% from the field. The Bills dominated the glass outrebounding 46-43.
The Billikens travel home winning two out of three exhibition games. While these are just exhibition games, there are plenty takeaways from these games. There were many players that stepped up including junior Mike Crawford, sophomore Davell Roby, sophomore Miles Reynolds, and freshman Elliott Welmer. I am impressed by how quickly Welmer is making offensive and rebound contributions. Crews should be impressed by Welmer’s play and understanding his role. The Billikens can also take away aspects of the game to improve on. One of these would be three-point shooting as the Billikens struggled from behind the arc. The Billikens also need to learn to value possessions and not turnover the basketball as much. This was an aspect that the Billikens struggled with last year. In the grand scheme of things, as Meatloaf said, “Two outta three ain’t bad.”