Bench Clears, Hearts Break

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A fight breaks out and teams are restrained at Tri-C men's basketball game against Lakeland Community College at the Eastern Campus Jan. 28. Photo by Mitchel Guy
A fight breaks out and teams are restrained at Tri-C men’s basketball game against Lakeland Community College at the Eastern Campus Jan. 28. Photo by Mitchel Guy

Men’s Team Loses to Lakeland After Fight

By Mitchel Guy
Sports Reporter

Emotions flared as the Challengers took on the Lakers of Lakeland Community College Wednesday night causing them to lose 99-95.

This game pitted two of the top teams in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference against each other. With an enormous amount of hype surrounding the game, the Challengers had an opportunity to knock off the first-place team in the conference.

Coach Michael Duncan and the boys were once again wearing their “Stand up for Tone” T-shirts to show support for their teammate Antonio Mason who recently suffered injuries in a car accident that left him paralyzed. Anchoring the bench, Mason’s presence was definitely felt throughout the arena.

“We all love Tone. We play even harder every time we see him out there,” said Starter Marquis Jackson.

Early on, Lakeland seemed outmatched. The Challengers jumped out to a commanding lead and carried it throughout most of the game. Forward Robert Fomby stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points and securing 15 rebounds.

Overall the challengers shot better than 62 percent, including an unbelievable 77 percent from 3-point range. However, despite their impressive shooting performance they were unable to pull away.

The Lakers were able to hang around due largely to the efforts of former Garfield Heights standout Mike Davis. Davis, last week’s OCCAC player of the week, finished with a game high 31 points.

Despite his efforts the Challengers were still on their way to victory until disaster struck with about five minutes remaining. After Tri-C’s Isaiah Bennet got tangled up with Lakeland’s Montell Goodwin on defense an altercation ensued. Punches were thrown by members of both teams and the Challenger bench cleared in defense of their teammate.

What happened next seemed to baffle the crowd as well as Tri-C’s players. There were a total of four technical fouls called that resulted in seven free-throw attempts for Lakeland. After missing only one, the Lakers were able to take their first lead of the game. According to Coach Duncan, “That was actually the deciding factor.”

Isaiah Bennet, Jalen Stewart, Darrell Parker were all ejected and have been suspended for two games for their role in the altercation.

This game could be the turning point in either direction for the season. This was a heartbreaking loss that crushed the spirits of the team. On the other hand, the boys proved that they can go to battle with the best their conference has to offer.

The Challengers were the better team on this night but unfortunately a lack of self-discipline was their undoing. With resiliency and resolve, the Challengers can salvage their season and still make a run to the conference tournament, where they will surely see Lakeland again.

The Challengers take on Edison Community College at an away game in Piqua, Ohio, this Saturday, Jan. 31. The conference season record stands at 4-2, and 13-6 overall.

Robert Fenbers contributed to this report. All stats courtesy of OCCAC.ORG.

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