Freshman Fortitude, Lyle Scores 24 in Tourney Win
BRISTOL, Tenn. – King College held as much as a 14-point lead in their opening round Conference Carolinas Tournament game against Coker College, Friday night. The Cobras battled back with an 11-point turnaround, but freshman Logan Lyle scored three of the biggest points of his young career on a three pointer that turned the momentum in King's favor and led to a 69-65 win. King will now play Mount Olive in the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals at home on Friday, March 2.
King held as much as an 11-point lead over the Cobras with four minutes to go when the visitors rallied with an 11-0 run to tie the game. Following an Eddie Piccinini (Orlando, Fla.) three pointer to increase the King lead to 62-51, Coker's Charles West paved the way for the Cobras with nine of the team's next 11 points during the run. West converted three straight three-point plays, two field goals and an and-one opportunity, to bring Coker within two points of the Tornado. Sharod Williams tied the game at 62 on their next possession with a mid-range jumper before King used a timeout to regroup.
King's resiliency staved off the attack, beginning with clutch three-point shooting from freshman guard Logan Lyle. The Unicoi, Tenn., native helped lead the Tornado attack and swung the momentum back into King's favor when he drilled a three pointer from the top of the key to give King a 65-62 lead with 00:51 to go.
The Navy and Scarlett turned it around on the defensive end when Lio Gedeon (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) raised the crowd to their feet with a monster rejection. On the ensuing possession, Coker's Sharod Williams drove down the lane and went up for an 18-foot jump shot from just beyond the free throw line where he was met by the King center. Gedeon got vertical and got a paw of the ball in flight, blocking it into the hands of teammate DeShaun Greer (Lewisburg, Tenn.) for the big defensive stop, maintaining the three-point lead with 29 seconds to go.
After being fouled while in the double bonus, Brandon Goss (St. Louis, Mo.) hit two free throws to extend the King lead to five points, but Coker was not done fighting. Guard Bryce Arnott came down the court in a hurry and hit a fade-away three pointer from the left wing with six seconds on the clock, trimming the lead to two. A quick foul sent Lyle back to the line, where he added the last of his 24 points with a pair of free throw makes to seal the game, 69-65.
Lyle led the Tornado with 24 points on an 8-of-14 shooting night in King's first ever Conference Carolinas postseason win. He led the team in total points as well as second-half points (9).
King started the game off on fire when Eddie Piccinini put up a pair of layups stemming from two Coker turnovers to start the game. The Tornado blew past the Cobras with a nine-point run to take a 15-7 lead, working hard in the paint. Of their first 15 points, eight were accounted for in the paint with Lyle adding a pair of successful free throws after being fouled on a drive to the bucket.
Coker cut the lead to four with 5:36 to go, but senior leadership began to shine when Brian Hewitt (Lexington, Ky.) hit one of his two treys to regain a 27-20 lead. Fellow senior Brandon Goss kept up the pressure by splitting the defense and adding another layup from the left side to go up by nine. Lyle kept up the pressure, scoring the next five King points and helping the Tornado build their lead to 14 with 1:22 in the first half. They held a ten-point advantage into the locker room and battled back and forth through much of the second half until Coker attempted their comeback.
Lyle's 24-point effort is his third 20-plus point night in his last six games and fifth overall this season. He went off from the field, tying a season-high with eight made field goals on 14 attempts (.571), four coming from behind the arc. The freshman guard also brought down seven rebounds against the Cobras, tying Lio Gedeon for most on the night.
Brandon Goss continued seeing the floor and distributing the ball well, tallying four assists to complement three steals. He scored 11 points in the win, seven coming from the charity stripe. Brian Hewitt and Eddie Piccinini each scored in double figures, tallying 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Coker's Julian Nelson led the Cobras with 25 points on the night. He scored 20 of the team's 26 first-half points. Charles West was the only other double-digit point scorer for Coker, tallying 12 points as a key contributor in the Cobras late charge.
With the 69-65 win, King advances on to the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinal round where they will host the Mount Olive Trojans on Friday, March 2. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. inside the Student Center Complex.
The Trojans, ranked second in the East Division, defeated Lees-McRae, 74-48. King defeated Mount Olive at home on Jan. 7, 80-60. The Trojans have won their last six games, including a victory on the road at Queens (N.C.).