WATCH LIVE: Eastern Florida State Men Seek First Basketball Title in School History Tonight
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Assistant Editor // March 25, 2017
SPACE COAST DAILY TV
WATCH LIVE: Eastern Florida Sate College vies for the national title in the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball championship game as the Titans take on the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons.
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HUTCHINSON, KANSAS – The national title game for NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball will tip off tonight at 8 p.m. as head coach Jeremy Shulman and his Eastern Florida State Titans face the favored and hometown hosts, the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragons.
The sixth seeded Titans of Eastern Florida State handed the second seeded Texans of South Plains (TX) just its second loss of the season 77-65 to punch their ticket to the title game.
Kareem Brewton led the Titans with 26 points and six assists, 19 of those points coming in the second half.
The Titans have reached this point on the “defense wins championships” philosophy.
All three of Eastern Florida State College wins in Hutchinson, Kansas have two things in common, they have outrebounded the opponent and scored more points in the paint.
Since the second half of their first game in Hutchinson, the Titans have held opposing teams to 31 percent shooting from the floor and three full contests have outrebounded teams by an average of eight boards per game. The big men down low are indeed finishing for coach Shulman.
The Titans have outscored the opposition in the paint, 43-29 over the first three games of the tournament.
EFSC is also averaging nearly nine steals per game and have forced 40 turnovers.
Defense is always a collective team effort and coach Shulman has pointed to that fact following every win.
After holding Motlow State to just 45 points in the Titans second win, a season best in points allowed for EFSC,
“These guys, I am so blessed to be able to coach these guys. They are doing a tremendous job of coming out in the second half and guarding people, ” Coach Shulman said.
EFSC Sports information Director Michael Parsons and frequent guest on Space Coast Daily Sports Talk has been covering the torunament and speaks with Coach Shulman and the players frequently.
“We have some of the most underrated post players in the country, especially when it comes to defense and rebounding,” said sophomore and former Melbourne Bulldog Austin Awad.
“They are under rated and they (inside players) are so physical down there. They have such an impact on the game, they are crucial players for us.”
Protecting the house, head coach Jeremy Shulman calls it and the trio of Shaq Carter, Eli Abaev and Noah Horchler have been doing it as well as any team in the country.
Abaev comes into the championship game averaging 12 rebounds per game while Carter is averaging almost eight and Horchler comes off the bench and grabs six per game as they head into the matchup with Hutchinson Community College for the national championship.
“To win a national championship you have to beat the best teams in the country and we had to beat Northwest Florida this season, we had to beat South Plains and we have to beat Hutch and those are the top three teams in the national poll and three of the best teams in the country and I would like to include us in the four, but it’s going to be a heck of a game,” Shulman said.
The Titans are led offensively by a sophomore and freshman in Kareem Brewton and Ahmed Ali.
Ali led the team in scoring in the teams first two wins with 22 and 28 points respectively. Brewton, who was the conference player of the year led EFSC with 26 points in the Final Four contest.
Tonight will not be easy as the Titans get set to play in the biggest game in the programs 70-year history.
For the second straight year, the Blue Dragon easily dispatched of two teams the Titans are familiar with.
They defeated Region VIII Conference Champ St. Petersburg College, 95-78, a team EFSC lost twice to this season including in the conference championship game.
Northwest Florida State College was sent packing as Hutch handed the Raiders a nine point setback in the Final Four. EFSC twice defeated NWFSC this season.
Last year, they were defeated by Salt Lake on their home floor in the tournament’s championship game and the scars from that loss remain as they take the floor tonight.
They are led by sophomores and first team All conference selection, Shakur Juirston and Samajae Haynes-Jones
Juiston, 6’7″ and 210 pounds is a sophomore and averaged a double-double per game this past season with 17 points and 12 rebounds per game.
So far in three tournament games Juirston is aveaging 24 points and 14 rebounds per game. He fondly remembers what losing in the championship game felt like last season.
“It’s a blessing to be here and even be in the Final Four today,” Juiston said. “Last year we lost and I was very emotional. I couldn’t cope with myself. I was lost for words.
“I couldn’t speak to anybody. I was just to myself. To go back this year is a blessing. He’s given us a second chance.”
Tipoff time is 8:00 p.m. and you can watch the game on Space Coast Daily TV vis Facebook Live.
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- 02 Kareem Brewton
- 14 Eli Abaev
- 15 Shaq Carter
- 22 Austin Awad
- 23 Ahmed Ali