Falcons collect GSC East banner

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Four years, four conference championships.

Marcus Kennedy has known nothing less than winning since putting on a University of Montevallo basketball uniform for his first collegiate game on Nov. 15, 2003.

“When I first came here, especially with my brother (Caleb), I knew we were going to be winning games. I honestly never imagined this big and having such a good team each year,” Kennedy said.

It was no surprise then, that he took the game into his hands Monday night, leading the Falcons to their third-consecutive Gulf South Conference East Division Championship in an 89-77 victory over Valdosta State University.

The win was also the sixth-straight over VSU, who won the East title in 2003-04, but the Falcons captured the tournament title that season.

Kennedy’s 34 points, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 7-of-10 from the free-throw line, was his second best game of his collegiate career, as he finished the night just five points shy of 2,000 and 59 shy of the school record.

&8220;He had a big night. He hasn&8217;t had one like that in awhile,&8221; Head Coach Danny Young said.

Kennedy was just 1-for-5 from the floor in the first eight minutes of play, as the Falcons were strapped into a battle with the Blazers. After missing the next minute and a half, Kennedy re-entered the game and scored 12 points in the remainder of the opening half.

&8220;Being here four years and with it possibly being my last home game, I just came out juiced, possibly too juiced. Coach had to take me out and calm me down a little bit, but by the time I came back out I was alright,&8221; Kennedy said.

His 3-point basket, with 39 seconds to play in the first half, cut the Blazers&8217; lead to 37-35 entering the intermission.

Mark Plaza hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and give Montevallo a 38-37 lead off an assist by Kennedy. However, Valdosta continued to remain close, regaining the lead, 46-45, just five minutes into the second half.

Plaza stepped up again with a 3-point basket to put UM up 48-46 with 14:58 to play, and the Falcons never looked back, as they went on an 8-0 run to pull ahead by seven points, 53-46. They later posted another 8-point run to pull ahead by 12 points, 64-52, with 10 minutes to play and held on for the 12 point win.

The largest lead of the night came with 2:28 to play when Kennedy grabbed a deffensive rebound and put the Falcons up 14 points with a dunk on the other end of the court.

Now, the Falcons prepare to travel to the one place in the Gulf South Conference East they have yet to collect a win under Young and Kennedy&8217;s tenure.

The Falcons (21-5, 10-1 GSC) will carry a school record 12-game win streak, into Pruitt Hall at the University of West Alabama Saturday to meet the Tigers at 7:30 p.m.

&8220;I say it every year and I believe it every year, but I think we&8217;re going to win. The team is on a roll right now and I think we&8217;re going to beat them,&8221; Kennedy said.

A win for the Falcons will be their 31st against West Alabama, but only their second in Livingston since joining the NCAA in 1995. The only win at Pruitt Hall came with a 67-63 victory in 2000.

West Alabama looks to keep their home success against Montevallo alive and earn a bid to the GSC Tournament. In order for that possibility to arise, the Tigers needed the University of North Alabama to defeat the State University of West Georgia last night. Results were not available at publication time.