photo: LC Flickr / Lewis and Clark Community College Head Coach Deon Thomas (right) with team.
By Craig Phelps
Godfrey, IL- For a team that started out the season on a six game losing streak, the Trailblazers are looking pretty good. After dropping those first dreadful games, the trailblazers took a look at each other and regrouped.
Whether it be the jump from Division II to Division I or the lack of chemistry, Lewis and Clark now has their head on straight. They are prepared for anything that lies ahead of them. They are looking to make a run in the conference tournament, but first, they have one more challenge in front of them, the St. Louis Community College – Forest Park Highlanders.
While the Highlanders are a Division II school, they are one the fourth best offensive team in the nation, averaging 92.6 points per game. They ride on the back of 6’3” freshman guard sensation, Jamel Noel, who averages 22.2 points. He is backed up by the sophomore 6’4” sophomore Keon Griffin who throws up a respectable 16 points per outing. This should not phase the Trailblazers too much though.
Second year head coach Deon Thomas has proven that his team can adapt to any style of game. They have won games this season scoring as many as 100 points and as low as 66 points. They rely on defense and teamwork to get the job done, and their last regular season game should prove to be on different.
NCAA Division 1 University of Toledo transfer, Joshua Freelove, has taken over the Midwest by storm. The athletic guard averages 14 points per game and shoots a cool 46.4 percent from the field. Surprisingly enough though, Freelove is not the leading point grabber on the Trailblazers squad.
Sophomore point guard helped, Anthony Jones, lead the Trailblazers to a fourth place finish in the National Tournament last year and is playing at an even higher level late into his final season at Lewis and Clark. He averages 14.8 points per game and is second on the team in assist with a 3.2 average; Bryson Smith leads the team averaging 3.8 assist. Jones is a player who has really taken this team to new heights and is looked at as an emotional leader off the court and a guy who leads by example on the hardwood.
The beloved points title for the Trailblazers belongs to neither Jones or Freelove. Instead, it is the big man in the post, Rico Pierrevilus, who averages 15.2 points per game. Rico set a career high earlier this year in a 30 point outing, and his calm, cool, and collected style seems to frustrate opponents. He is one of those guys who just gets the job done, and he is looking to have another big night against the Highlanders. Forest Park’s big man, the 6’8” Ronald Lawson, only averages 8.9 points per game and turns the ball over 1.4 times per game.
Look for the Trailblazers to adapt to the run-n-gun style of the Highlanders and for their athleticism to take over. As long as Lewis and Clark’s defense holds up and they stay out of foul trouble, something they have had problems with the past few games, the boys in blues and white should be able to pull out a victory.
Prediction. Trailblazers 88 – Highlanders 82.