Thank You From Fieldhouse

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ASHEVILLE, N.C. (December 22, 2018) – As 2018 comes to a close, I wanted to send a thank you to all those who have followed/subscribed to fieldhouseasheville.com in its initial year. As our email inboxes become increasingly crowded, I especially appreciate the decision to follow the site. 

Thank you to all the sports organizations (college & professional) who’ve provided invaluable expertise and resources during this first year – the site could not exist without them.

Thank you to the advertisers who’ve gradually been added over the past several months. Your support in the early stages of this modest but important endeavor is invaluable. 

It’s a privilege to serve the WNC-Upstate areas with regional coverage as well as selected national coverage. The opportunity to hear and share stories from people in the community and across the country is the best part of being a journalist.

May everyone have a peaceful and happy holiday season! – Tom

Photos: UNCA Vs. Milligan

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Tajion Jones (#3) had 30 points for UNCA on Friday (photo – Tom Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (December 21, 2018)  In a rare weekday basketball matinee, the UNCA Bulldogs hosted their area neighbors to the north, the Milligan Buffaloes, on Friday at Kimmel Arena.

Milligan is the much smaller of the programs but is consistently strong in the NAIA ranks, while the Bulldogs field the youngest lineup in NCAA DI basketball. The result of that combo was entertaining basketball as the Bulldogs (2-10, 0-0) captured their second win of the season with an 86-76 win over the Buffaloes. Aaron Levarity led Milligan (7-5) with 20 points, while Tajion Jones (pictured) led all scorers with 30 points. 

After the Bulldogs moved out to a 23-13 lead in the first half, the Buffs went on a 15-0 run to take a 28-23 advantage following a layup from Levarity. At halftime, Milligan led, 38-37. 

The two teams drew even at 51-51 in the second half, and from there the Bulldogs took and held the lead to eventually finish with the 10-point victory. 

UNCA head coach Mike Morrell played for Milligan in the early 2000s, graduating in 2005. The willingness of both teams to play across levels provides an extra opportunity for the region’s basketball fans to see two of its better-known programs compete. 

“It was tremendously special for me, not so much in the moment, but now that I get to look back on it,” said Morrell of playing his alma mater. “We’ll continue to play those guys; I’ll never be able to give back to that school what it gave to me.” 

The Bulldogs are off until December 29, when they host Fayetteville State (1-8) at 2:00 p.m. at Kimmel Arena. Box Score

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Fieldhouse Report, 12.20.2018

Furman Basketball
Furman’s Matt Rafferty goes up for a basket against WCU on Dec. 1 (photo – Furman Athletics)

Men’s College BasketballFurman remains the top basketball story in the Upstate/Western Carolina region this year. The Paladins are 12-0 to date and are ranked #24 nationally in the latest AP Poll. On Saturday, they travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to face the SEC’s LSU (8-4) at 8:00 p.m. Last week I spoke with head coach Bob Richey and two key team members Matt Rafferty and Jordan Lyons – and on Tuesday contributed an article to Forbes on the team’s outstanding efforts to date.

The WCU Catamounts were live on the Big-10 Network on Tuesday night against the #23 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-2) in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes prevailed, 78-60. Marc Gosselin led all WCU scorers with 17 points. 

Mars Hill Basketball Mars Hill Lions
Mars Hill is 6-4 this season after a 4-24 campaign last year (photo – MHU Athletics)

In the Mountain Five, the Mars Hill Lions have already eclipsed last year’s wins total with a 6-4 mark on the season. They defeated Carson-Newman (Tenn.)(6-4) on Wednesday night by a final score of 87-74. The Lions are led Vic Finora who is in his second full season leading the team. Finora played his undergraduate basketball for the NAIA’s William Penn.

Records of area teams include:

NCAA Division I:

  • Furman (#24) (Southern) (12-0, 1-0)
  • Western Carolina (Southern) (3-10, 0-1)
  • UNC Asheville (Big South) (1-10, 0-0) 

Mountain Five:

  • Montreat (NAIA DII) (#25) (8-2, 6-1)
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (6-4, 1-2)
  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (4-5, 1-2)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA DII) (6-8, 2-1) 
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (5-7, 2-2)

Next Fieldhouse Report: Women’s college basketball and more

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Fieldhouse Report, 12.12.2018

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Jimeshia Lawson follows through on one of 12 points Tuesday (photo – T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (December 12, 2018) The UNCA Bulldogs women’s basketball team saw a 17-point lead disappear against East Tennessee on Tuesday night. They then went on to win a thrilling game at Kimmel Arena, 56-55.   

Guard Zip Scott hit the game-winner with 23 seconds left in the contest. The senior drove right initially, then came back left before putting up a runner that gave the Bulldogs the one-point lead.

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ETSU (1-11, 0-0) immediately called a timeout, and with five seconds left the Bucs’ Erica Haynes-Overton was called for an offensive foul and the ball reverted to the Bulldogs. UNCA (5-3, 0-0) then stepped on the line trying to inbound the ball following the foul, and ETSU had a last-gasp effort that ended when Ali Trani came up with a loose ball for UNCA to effectively close out the win.

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“For us to go through all that, lose the lead, and still come out with this outcome is tremendous,” said head coach Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick. “Exciting game. I’m really pleased with the kids. I know I’ll look at the film and see a lot of things we can improve upon, but in terms of the intangibles of having that resiliency at the end, I’m proud of them.” 

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UNCA’s Coty Jude against WCU on December 8 (photo – T. Flynn)

Men’s College Basketball – Coty Jude was named the Big South’s Freshman of the Week on Monday. Jude averaged 13 ppg and shot 47% from the field and 100% from the charity stripe last week. Jude is one of four freshmen that start for the Bulldogs, who return home on December 21 to host Johnson City’s Milligan College (7-5). 

Records for area men’s basketball teams as of today include:

NCAA Division I:

  • Furman (#23) (Southern) (11-0, 1-0)
  • Western Carolina (Southern) (3-8, 0-1)
  • UNC Asheville (Big South) (1-8, 0-0) 

Mountain Five:

  • Montreat (NAIA DII) (#25) (7-2, 6-1)
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (5-3, 0-1)
  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (4-4, 1-1)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA DII) (6-8, 2-1) 
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (3-7, 0-2)

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Fieldhouse Weekender, 12.09.2018

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WCU guard Matt Halvorsen posted 14 against UNCA (photo – T. Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (December 9, 2018) – The Western Carolina Catamounts defeated UNCA at Kimmel Arena on Saturday, 71-59. For WCU, the non-conference victory moved the team to 3-8 on the season. 

WCU surged out to a 16-2 lead to open the game and took a 41-21 lead into the halftime break. In the second half, the Bulldogs improved defensively in the post and outscored the visitors, 38-30. Freshman Coty Jude had 18 points for UNCA (1-8) on the night and added three rebounds, two steals, and a block. The Catamounts were led by 15 points from freshman guard, Kameron Gibson.

Asheville UNCA Basketball WCU Basketball WCU Paladins Southern Conference Big South
UNCA’s Coty Jude led all scorers with 18 points on Saturday (photo – T. Flynn)

To the south, the #25 Furman Paladins became the first Southern Conference team to start out 10-0 since 1963-64. Furman defeated USC Upstate (2-8) at Timmons Arena on Saturday to remain undefeated. The Spartans led by four at the half, but Furman outscored the hosts by eighteen in the second half to secure the win, 74-60. For the Paladins it was their 17th win in their last 18 games dating back to last season.

Brevard College Basketball
Brevard head coach Donald Hudson speaks with his team during a November 28 game (photo –  BC/Thomas Kennedy)

In women’s basketball, the Brevard Tornados split two games over the weekend. On Saturday, they defeated Agnes Scott (Ga.) (0-7) of the USA South, 52-41. Senior Annalee Bollinger topped all scorers with 17 points. 

On Sunday, they dropped a 73-55 decision to conference rival Huntingdon (Ala.), 73-55. The Hawks are winners of five straight and are atop the USA South’s West Division with a 3-0 record in league play.   

Bollinger leads Brevard (6-3, 2-2) this season with 14.7 points per outing. The Tornados return to the court this Saturday to host Piedmont (Ga.) (7-3) at Boshamer Gym. 

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Fieldhouse Basketball Report, 12.07.2018

0001 Tipoff Montreat College B&W
Montreat’s Cayleigh Raby goes up for the tip (photo – MC/Codie Kunstmann)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (December 7, 2018) – Weather will have the final word this weekend on area games, as many are already postponed in anticipation of snow/ice. Some remain on the schedule, including the weekend’s first action when Brevard’s men’s team hosts Averett (Va.) this evening at 7:30 p.m at Boshamer Gymnasium

The top men’s matchup between area teams is at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at Asheville’s Kimmel Arena, when the Bulldogs host the WCU Catamounts in the 52nd meeting of the two Western North Carolina rivals. The only women’s home game on the calendar is in Greenville, where the Paladins host Gardner-Webb in their Big South opener on Saturday.

Here’s a look at all of the region’s teams, their records, and their upcoming games. For simplicity, and in homage to Philadelphia’s storied Big 5, the five non-DI teams in the greater-Asheville area will be referred to collectively as the Mountain Five going forward.

Women’s NCAA Division I:

  • UNC Asheville (Big South) (4-3, 0-0) (Dec. 11 at ETSU)
  • Furman (Southern) (4-4, 0-0)(Dec. 8 vs. Gardner Webb – 2:00 p.m.
  • Western Carolina (Southern) (2-8, 0-0)(Dec. 18 at Kentucky)

Women’s Mountain Five:

  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (5-2, 1-1) (Dec. 8 at Agnes Scott – 2:00 p.m.)
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (4-4, 1-1) (at Mt. Olive, postponed)
  • Montreat (NAIA DII) (5-6, 4-4) (at Allen University, postponed)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA DII) (3-9, 1-0) (Dec. 7 at Piedmont Int. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (1-4, 0-1) (vs. Coker, postponed
Lees McRae Basketball 2018
Lees-McRae freshman Jonathan Webb (photo – LM Athletics)

Men’s NCAA Division I:

  • Furman (Southern) (9-0, 1-0) (Dec. 8 at USC Upstate – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Western Carolina (Southern) (2-8, 0-1) (Dec. 8 at UNC Asheville – 1:00 p.m.)
  • UNC Asheville (Big South) (1-7, 0-0) (Dec 8. vs. WCU – 1:00 p.m.)

Men’s Mountain Five:

  • Montreat (NAIA DII) (7-2, 6-1) (at Allen University, postponed)
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (4-3, 0-1) (vs. Coker, postponed)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA DII) (5-7, 3-1) (Dec. 8 at Trinity Baptist (Fla.))
  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (3-4, 0-1) (Dec. 7 vs. Averett – 7:30 p.m.)
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (3-7, 0-2) (at Mount Olive, postponed)

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Fieldhouse Report, 12.05.2018

Mars Hill Basketball
Mars Hill’s Mariah Johnson brings the ball upcourt against Warren Wilson (photo – Mars Hill Athletics)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (December 5, 2018) – Last week two area DI women’s basketball teams squared off when UNCA traveled to Greenville to face Furman. The Paladins prevailed, 57-48, behind 17 points from guard Taylor Perry. The win took Furman to .500 on the season at 3-3.

Brevard leads the region’s women’s teams with a 5-1 mark through six games. The Tornados have won three straight, and face Maryville (Tenn.) this evening on the road. Brevard is led by head coach Donald Hudson, a former Tornado football and basketball player who graduated in 2011. 

In a matchup of area college teams on November 26, Lees-McRae hosted and defeated Montreat, 92-73, in Banner Elk. Warren Wilson put together back-to-back wins this week over Toccoa Falls (Ga.) and Johnson & Wales (N.C.) to move to 3-7. Senior point guard Danasia Dumas leads all area scorers with a 24.3 ppg average.

Updated records for area teams include:

  • UNCA (NCAA DI) (4-3)
  • Furman (NCAA DI) (3-3)
  • WCU (NCAA DI) (1-8)
  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (5-1)
  • Montreat (NAIA) (5-5)
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (3-4)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA) (3-7)
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (1-4)
Furman Basketball Furman Paladins Furman Basketball Ranked
Furman, shown here during a timeout against UNCA, is ranked 25th nationally (photo – T. Flynn)

Men’s College Basketball  The Furman Paladins are 9-0 to date and broke into the AP Top-25 poll at the 25 spot on Monday. It is the first time Furman has ever earned a spot in the AP Poll, which began in the 1948-1949 season. The Paladins’ basketball program began play in 1908 and joined the Southern Conference in 1938. 

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Fieldhouse Weekender, 12.03.2018

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 01 East Carolina at NC State
NC State senior Woody Cornwell celebrates after scoring his first collegiate touchdown Saturday (photo – Icon Sports Wire)

REGIONAL

RALEIGH, N.C. (December 3, 2018)  A story that began four years ago ended on the highest of notes for NC State senior quarterback, Woody Cornwell. Cornwell played his high school football at Western North Carolina’s Tuscola High School and walked onto the NC State team in 2014. He redshirted that fall, and in December 2017 received a scholarship for his final season of eligibility.

Cornwell registered his first career statistic when he rushed for three yards on one attempt in a 47-28 win over Florida State on November 3. On Saturday,  Cornwell’s second career rushing attempt was for an 11-yard touchdown in a 58-3 win over Eastern Carolina

“To see Woody Cornell score a touchdown – awesome. We have such a special group of seniors,” said head coach Dave Doeren after the game.

The win helped the Wolfpack finish the season at 9-3 and earn a bid to the Gator Bowl on December 31 in Jacksonville, Florida. They’ll face the SEC’s Texas A&M (8-4).

Jordan Lyons
Furman defeated WCU in double overtime on Saturday (photo – Furman Athletics)

College Basketball This week saw all area men’s basketball teams compete. On Saturday, Western Carolina (2-7) took undefeated Furman (8-0) to double overtime before dropping a 90-88 decision to the Paladins. It was the first double overtime win for Furman since February 1991. Jordan Lyons (pictured) led all scorers with 29 points, including six three-pointers.

Updated records for area teams include:

  • Furman (NCAA DI) (8-0)
  • Western Carolina (NCAA DI) (2-7)
  • UNC Asheville (NCAA DI) (1-6)
  • Montreat (NAIA) (6-2)
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (4-3)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA) (4-7)
  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (3-4)
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (3-6)

Indoor Track Some members of area cross country teams turned their attention to the start of the indoor track season this week. UNC Asheville, Mars Hill, and Lees-McRae all competed in the Appalachian State Open in Boone. Click here for results from the event.

Mars Hill also sent athletes to the Montreat College Indoor Kickoff. Although staged outdoors, the event is considered the opener for the indoor season. Senior Noah Allison of Mars Hill won the men’s 5,000m run with a 15:10.74 time. Click here for full results.

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Fieldhouse Report, 11.27.2018

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 24 Illinois at Northwestern
Northwestern Wildcats wide receiver Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman (81) gets upended against Illinois on Saturday (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire)

NATIONAL

The Northwestern Wildcats (8-4) will look for the upset this weekend when they face Ohio State (10-1) in the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. For Northwestern, the game is their first visit to the conference championship game and they would earn an automatic Rose Bowl berth with a victory. The Wildcats last won the Big Ten title in 2000, prior to the annual championship game. 

Senior Clayton Thorson will be under center for Northwestern and has started more games than any quarterback in Big Ten history.  Asheville High School‘s all-time sack leader, Andrew Leota (53, above), is a freshman defensive lineman for the Wildcats. The game is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff and will be broadcast live by Fox Sports.

SonoraDengokl (2)
UNCA’s Senora Dengokl brings the ball upcourt against Tennessee (photo – UNCA Athletics)

REGIONAL

College Basketball  – UNCA’s Senora Dengokl was named the Big South’s player of the week last week after averaging 17 points per game in wins over Davidson and Wofford. It was the first such honor for Dengokl, who is shooting 50% from the field and 72% from the free-throw line through five games this season.

The Bulldogs are 3-2 overall. Records for area women’s teams this season to date include:

  • Furman (NCAA DI) (2-3)
  • WCU (NCAA DI) (1-7)
  • Brevard (NCAA DIII) (2-1)
  • Lees-McRae (NCAA DII) (3-3)
  • Montreat (NAIA) (4-4)
  • Mars Hill (NCAA DII) (1-2)
  • Warren Wilson (USCAA) (1-7)

College Soccer – Closing out fall soccer coverage, Brevard seniors Ashley Hughes and Caroline David earned NCCSIA All-State honors. Hughes set the Tornados’ NCAA-era single-season goals record with 19 this fall and totaled 41 points, another Brevard NCAA-era record. David set records for single-season and career assists.

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Photos: UNCA Vs. Furman

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UNCA warms up prior to Sunday’s game against Furman (photos – Tom Flynn)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (November 26, 2018) – On Sunday, the Furman Paladins improved upon their best start in program history when they defeated the UNCA Bulldogs, 65-51, at Kimmel Arena

The Bulldogs’ starting lineup included four freshmen and a sophomore, and a more-experienced Furman (7-0) team took a 38-22 advantage into halftime. In the second half, UNCA (1-5) outscored the Paladins by a basket.

“I don’t think we made a ton of adjustments [at halftime], I just thought our guys played a little bit smarter.  It all boils down to turnovers. We didn’t give them the ball as much in the second half as we did in the first half,” said UNCA head coach Mike Morrell after the game. “When you do that, you have the ability to set your defense and you’re not scrambling as much on the other end.”

The Paladins were led by Matt Rafferty’s 20 points. The senior also had 11 rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block. The Bulldogs were paced by 14 points from freshman guard Tajion Jones. Fellow freshman Cress Worthy added 10 points and led the Bulldogs with six rebounds.

0004 Matt Rafferty Furman Paladins

With the win, the Paladins remained undefeated on the season and have victories over Villanova and Loyola Chicago on their 2018 resumé. They will play their first Southern Conference game on Saturday when they host Western Carolina (2-5) at Timmons Arena.

The Bulldogs travel to face UT Martin (4-2) in a non-conference match on Saturday in Martin, Tennessee. Their Big South Conference games begin in early January.

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