The Sewanee Men’s Basketball team celebrates their first conference championship win. Photo courtesy of saa-sports.com.
By Richard Pryor III
After three amazing and heart-stopping games, the Sewanee Men’s Basketball team won their first conference championship in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) and their first conference championship since 1997.
Finishing their regular season with a record of 19 wins and six losses, the Tigers were seeded third for the tournament held at Centre College in Danville, KY. In the first round, they curb-stomped Hendrix, winning 82-64 thanks to Luke Smith’s (C’21) 27 points.
In the semifinals, they defeated reigning champions Berry College 70-63 thanks to Smith scoring 40 points. Additionally, this was their only win against Berry this season in three games played.
In the final game, against top-seeded and home team Centre, the Tigers won a close game, 62-59, thanks to 23 points from Smith and 13 points from Hunter Buescher (C’19). The lead changed hands 9 times throughout the game and it was tied 6 times. With the score tied at 59 points with just over a minute left, two missed shots by Centre and a timeout by Sewanee allowed Michael Barry (C’20) to shoot a three-pointer with three seconds remaining off of an assist from Smith. With one second remaining, Centre’s Bailey Rakes missed a potential tying three-pointer, and the game was sealed.
Due to his performances, Smith was given the All-Tournament Team MVP award.
Barry informed The Purple that “it’s an indescribable feeling to know that we won a championship for the first time since 1997 and get to hang a banner to memorialize that accomplishment forever. It’s amazing to earn such a great reward for all our hard work this season.”
Due to this win, the Tigers have earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament, which will be their first appearance since 1998.