Sweet success: Montevallo competes in fourth-straight Sweet 16

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Four years, 105 wins, three regular season Gulf South Conference championships, three GSC tournament championships and four Sweet Sixteen appearances.

The resume for Danny Young is pretty extensive as head coach of the University of Montevallo men&8217;s basketball team.

Last night he took the court in Peoples Bank and Trust Arena at the Robert M. McChesney Student Activity Center to coach in his 11th NCAA Division II Regional Final, putting an 18-game win streak on the line to look for his sixth trip as a coach to the Elite Eight.

&8220;It&8217;s all a big testament to our kids and what they do,&8221; Young said.

However, Young&8217;s counterpart for the regional final, Tom Ryan from Eckerd College is quick to give Young credit.

&8220;Danny does a great job. He hasn&8217;t been in the tournament for all of these years for no reason. He has great players and does a good job and gets after them,&8221; Ryan said.

While Ryan praises Young, the old saying &8220;it takes one to know one&8221; applies to spying good coaching in the regional final. Young tops the list of active Division II coaches winning percentage, entering Tuesday&8217;s game with a .799 win percentage to date, while Ryan is in the Top 40 with a .657 win percentage.

While results were not available at press time for the 7 p.m. tip-off between the Tritons and Falcons, both coaches were looking to return to the Elite Eight for the second time in five years, with Eckerd going in 2003 and Montevallo in 2006.

A win for the Falcons, meant they were the first team since 2000 to win a regional on their home court and also the first to win the South Regional in back-to-back years since Florida Southern won in 1999 and 2000.

The road to the regional final was not an easy one for the top-seeded Falcons, as they started out slow against eighth-seed Albany State but bounced back for a 78-62 victory. In game two, Montevallo opened slowly again, leading for only a little over five minutes during regulation against fifth-seeded Henderson State University. A late surge by the Falcons helped them overcome a seven point deficit to force overtime tied 54-54 and later win 66-58 after extra time.

&8220;The game really reminded me of the Lynn game two year&8217;s ago in the regional final here. It really became just a battle of wills and we couldn&8217;t make a shot,&8221; Young said of Henderson.

Trailing by 10 points, 50-40, with 5:18 to play, Greg Brown grabbed an offensive board and drew a foul, hitting both free-throws on his way to 19 points on the night, including 11-of-12 from the line.

On the alternate possession by the Reddies, Howard sat back and waited, stole the ball from Donte Norton and raced to the other end for a dunk. Norton fouled Howard in the process, sending him to the free-throw line, where he cut the lead to five points. Moments later after a steal by Brown, Howard hit a 3-pointer to cut it to two points. He later cut the lead to one point, 54-53, on a lay up after a defensive rebound.

Darron Robinson fouled Omar Guinea on the inbounds play with 36 seconds left. Guinea missed the charity shot, as Kennedy grabbed his 972nd career rebound to draw a foul. Shooting two, he missed the first but made the second to force overtime.

Antione Vinson missed a contested 3-pointer in the final seconds.

&8220;Had Marcus hit the first free throw, then (Vinson) probably would have hit that shot,&8221; Young said.

The Falcons out scored the Reddies 12-4 in overtime for the win.

&8220;I think we didn&8217;t want to lose and weren&8217;t ready to go home yet, so everybody dug down deep,&8221; Howard said.

The winner of Tuesday&8217;s South Regional will meet the winner of the South Central Regional between top-seeded Central Missouri and second-seed Southeastern Oklahoma in the Elite Eight on Wednesday, March 21