BRISTOL, Va. – Throw out the records when it comes to the borderline battle between Virginia Intermont and King College. The two neighboring schools took to the hardwood Monday night in a classic showdown of former AAC rivals. In front of a packed crowd inside "The Den", the Cobras defended their home court in an 82-68 victory over the Tornado.
From the opening tip, both teams pushed the tempo early but took nearly two minutes to score the game's first basket. Virginia Intermont (11-12, 3-7 AAC) jumped out to a seven-point lead, 12-5, once both sides starting to get warmed up but the gap quickly closed to two points behind a pair of threes hit by freshman Logan Lyle (Unicoi, Tenn.) and Michael Fortune (Beckley, W.Va.) followed by a Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) jumper down the lane. King went on a 14-2 run soon after and took its first lead, 26-25, in the process. By the end of the run, King led by four points with 3:34 remaining in the first half.
The lead was short-lived as V-I responded with a big run that created enough distance to carry them through the end of the contest. Down 30-34, the Cobras closed out the first half with a 17-3 run to take a 10-point advantage going into halftime.
Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half in the Tornado's attempted comeback and helped bring the team within six points of the Cobras, even after V-I took as much as an 18-point lead. King never drew closer than six points when they fought back to a 62-56 score with 13:12 remaining. After Justin Morris hit one of his seven three-pointers on the day, Piccinini scored the next 12 Tornado points. The junior guard hit a pair of threes and six free throws in his own run to get King back within two scores, but their state-line rivals broke away once again to as much as a 16-point lead.
Beginning with Piccinini's last trey with 13:29 remaining, King was held without a field goal for the next 9:15 until Lio Gedeon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) hit a jumper with 4:14 remaining to break the missed shot streak. King went 0-for-9 shooting between those two makes while the Cobras built up the score, 75-59. King made only one field goal the duration of the game, again by Gedeon.
V-I guard Justin Morris had a career game with 42 points. Morris hit more field goals than any other Cobra attempted during the game (14) and shot 53.8 percent from the field. He scored 21 of his point behind the three-ball, hitting 7-of-15 (.467).
Piccinini and Lyle both finished with 22 points for King. Twelve of Piccinini's 22 came from the charity stripe. Lyle hit 4-of-11 (.364) from behind the arc and added seven boards to his line. Lio Gedeon recorded his fifth straight double-digit rebounding game with 12 boards against Virginia Intermont.
The loss snaps a nine-game win streak the Tornado began on Dec. 30. Their eight-game Conference Carolinas win streak and undefeated record in league play remains intact.
King (17-4, 9-0) has seven games remaining in the 2011-12 season with their next on Feb. 2 at home against North Greenville University. The doubleheader, beginning with the women's team at 5:30 p.m., marks Faculty/Staff Appreciation Night at the Student Center. Prizes and complimentary refreshments will be given to those in attendance, including a chance at a $50.00 gift certificate for the Fun Expedition, located in Johnson City. For more information, follow this link.