By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
In between looking back and looking ahead, the Concord University men’s basketball team will be looking for their 12th victory in 15 games all-time with the University of Virginia’s College at Wise this afternoon at the Carter Center.
Concord wraps up its regular season at 4 p.m. on the Christie-Cox Court against the Highland Cavaliers, new members of the NCAA Division II Mountain East Conference.
UVa-Wise took the teams’ first meeting of the season, 71-68, on Jan. 23, even though they shot just 37.3 percent from the field.
At halftime today, the Mountain Lions’ 1988-89 team will be honored on the 25th anniversary of its West Virginia Conference championship and trip to the NAIA national playoffs.
In what was Concord Hall of Fame coach Don Christie’s final season, the Mountain Lions tallied a record of 23-9 for the school’s first 20-win season.
Members of the team included Ben Blanding, Donnie Christie, Scott Goins, John Holbrook, Barry Holmes, Ricky Lester, Julius Lockett, Todd Lusk, Vincent Massie, Andre Nabors, Chuck Scott, Will Shrewsbury, Ron Ward, Dan Weitzel, assistant coach Steve Cox and assistant coach Will Johnson.
Ward, the school’s all-time leader in points and rebounds, along with Lockett and Lusk, joined Christie in the Concord Hall of Fame.
Lockett is second and Lusk is fifth in total career points scored for Concord. Lusk has made the most three-pointers in Concord history and Lockett is CU’s seventh leading rebounder. Scott is still CU’s assists leader and Donnie Christie remains tops in steals.
The athletic department will also hold a postgame reception for all players from the 1988-89 squad, its support staff as well as current Concord players.
This year’s Concord squad (8-19, 5-16 Mountain East) has lost its last three games, while UVa-Wise (10-15, 7-14) has lost six of their last seven.
Mike Boyd, who scored 22 points in Concord’s last game with the Highland Cavaliers, needs to make 13 free throws to be ranked 10th for foul shots made in a single season at Concord. Boyd is shooting a team-best 76.2 percent from the charity stripe.
Freshman Aaron Miller made four 3-pointers in Concord’s most recent game, a 64-59 loss on Wednesday at Charleston. Miller has made half of his trey tries — 28 for 56 — the second-best 3-point percentage in the Mountain East.
The Athenians’ big man, Terry Hopewell, is coming off of a 12-point, seven-rebound, two-block performance against Charleston and is averaging 11.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in Concord’s last four contests.
The Highland Cavaliers feature the MEC’s top rebounder. Deon Boyce averages 15.1 rebounds per game and is the league’s eighth-best scorer at 17.4 points per outing. Javon Moore adds 16.1 points per contest and Matt Day averages 12.6 points.
UVa-Wise leads the conference with an average of 43.4 rebounds per game. Its defensive field-goal percentage (46 percent) is fifth best in the league.
Blake Mellinger is in his first season as the Highland Cavaliers’ head coach after spending six seasons as an assistant coach in Wise.
Concord is locked in as the 11th seed in next week’s Mountain East tournament, and will hit the road to play a Tuesday night first-round game against the sixth-seeded team. UVa-Wise is currently in 10th place in the standings.
The women’s game at 2 p.m. will be the final time that senior Sammi Webster takes the floor in Athens for a contest. Webster, who has been on two conference semifinal teams, is averaging 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season.
Four Concordians scored in double figures, led by Jacqueline Kestner’s 15 points, in a 73-66 Concord win at UVa-Wise on Jan. 23.
Concord (9-16, 7-14 MEC) will put the Mountain East’s third-leading scorer, Andrea Bertrand, on the floor. UVa-Wise (9-16, 5-16) is led by Makenzie Cluesman, who averages 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest.
The Lady Lions will be trying to break an eight-game losing streak prior to starting conference tournament play on Tuesday in either Wheeling or South Euclid, Ohio.