The TFC Eagles basketball team opened their 2012-2013 season with a road win over Georgia Northwestern Technical College on Friday. The new look Eagles return only two starters from last season’s squad; neither of whom were at full strength for the opening game. Additionally, the victory was TFC’s first game under new coach, Jason Mehl. With only 7 players available, the opening game of the season would be a physical and mental test for the Eagles.
TFC took the lead off the opening tip, and never relinquished the advantage. TFC freshman Carlos Hamlett hit two early threes and helped the Eagles establish a double-digit, first half lead. The lead, which would extend as wide as 14 points in the first half, could be credited to the Eagles patient offensive discipline. The Bobcats of Georgia Northwestern played a conservative zone that allowed the Eagles to remain patient and be selective with their shots. Conversely, TFC’s Josh Johnson and the rest of the Eagles’ guards pressured the Bobcats’ ball handlers and contested each entry pass to the low post. TFC’s patience on the offense end and swarming defensive pressure helped TFC to end the half with a 31-23 lead. Hamlett led the Eagles in the opening half with 12 perimeter points. Derek Westfall added 9 from the interior.
The inexperience of the Eagles was revealed for moments in the second half. An uninspired effort in the opening minutes of the second half allowed the Bobcats to slowly close the gap. With just 7 minutes remaining in the game, the Eagles’ once double digit lead had been reduced to just two points. TFC was able to tighten their defense, and rebuilt the lead to nine points at the final whistle. Hamlett finished with a team high 18 points. Westfall contributed 17 points and 7 rebounds. Billy Aristide and Freddie Harell each grabbed 8 boards for the Eagles. Harell also added 8 points from his point guard position. First year coach Jason Mehl said after the win, “I was very proud of how all of our guys stepped up. We played hard and smart even though we were undermanned. That says a lot for a young team playing its first game on the road.”
TFC will travel to NCAA Division II North Greenville University for a non-region game next Saturday, November 9. The first home games of the new season will be on November 13 against Bob Jones University. The Lady Eagles will tip off against the Bob Jones Bruins at 5:00, and the men’s game will follow at 7:00.