The Middle Tennessee Storm are the 2014 Central Basketball Association Champions, as they survived a St. Louis missed three-pointer at the buzzer, to escape with a 106-103 victory in Nashville over the defending champions.
The Storm jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, ending the first frame on a 22-5 run to carry an 13-point advantage into the second. After losing a large portion of the lead midway through the second, Middle Tennessee continued to maintain their grip on the game entering the half at 46-40, with Torye Pelham (University of Southern Mississippi) leading the way for them. The third quarter, on the other hand, became the St. Louis Hawks show, as they erased a thirteen-point lead to take their largest lead of the game at 68-65 midway through the period.
That lead for St. Louis lasted only twenty seconds, as the Storm regained their composure and ended the third quarter on a 8-0 run to take a 73-68 lead into the final period. And once the fourth quarter started, the fireworks begun as Middle Tennessee expanded their lead back to double-digits and it looked liked the game was over. Then St. Louis, who had overcome an eighteen-point deficit in the semi-finals at Chattanooga, made a furious rally to cut the Storm lead to 91-90 with four minutes left in the game. Again, the experienced Storm team maintained their composure, held on to the lead, and kept it at five-to-six points for the next three-and-half minutes, as they entered the final 30 seconds with a 104-98 lead.
Game over? Not exactly. With a chance for Middle Tennessee to seal the game with two free throws and extend their lead to eight, Kevin Wilkinson missed both his shots from the charity stripe. On the ensuing possession, Lonell Johnson made a heavily-contested three to cut the lead to three at 104-101. Next possession, the Storm turned the ball over, only to have St. Louis score a wide-open layup. The Hawks fouled the Storm with seven seconds left, and luckily for Middle Tennessee, they connected on both their free throw attempts. With the final possession of the game, and Middle Tennessee up 106-103 over St. Louis, the Hawks went to Lonell Johnson again, who missed a game-tying three-pointer at the end of the game, to give the victory and the championship to Middle Tennessee.
Middle Tennessee, led by Coach Wilhite (Welch College) were led by Myles Thrash (Stillman), Torye Pelham (Southern Mississippi), and Brandon Springer (Cumberland), but they received major contributions from Marquis Patton (Fisk) in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The win gives the Storm their first ever league championship trophy, as they will look to celebrate into this offseason with this major organizational accomplishment.
Middle Tennessee Storm: Brandon Springer 20, Kevin Wilkinson, Jr. 19, Myles Thrash 16, Torye Pelham 15, Marquis Patton 14, Kristoffer Smith 10, Dominique Rouse 6, Wesley Poe 4, Frank Thaxton 2
St. Louis Hawks: Corey Hill 24, Lonell Johnson 15, Chris Rebuck 14, Alex Jackson 12, Donald Davis 10, Dallis Johnson 10, Dwayne Polk 5, Philipp Stewart 4, Johnny Cooper 4, Craig Coenen 3
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