By GREG WILLE

TempleBeltonSports.com

gwille2@hot.rr.com


Perhaps it was the contradiction of major league baseball's spring training camps opening in warm, sunny Arizona and Florida while an extreme, prolonged winter storm froze normal life here in Texas.

That led this writer to conduct some baseball research, which produced several interesting revelations and/or statistical oddities – involving Hall of Famer players such as Hank Aaron, Craig Biggio and Jim Palmer as well as rising superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. – that are being shared in the hope that you will have the time and/or inclination to read them.

–– When baseball icon Hank Aaron died in January at the age of 86, tributes poured in to celebrate the illustrious 23-season career of one of the sport's greatest players and sluggers as well as one of its most admirable figures. He's the major leagues' all-time leader in runs batted in (2,297) and total bases (6,856), and one statistic that continues to amaze is that even if his 755 home runs were taken away, Hammerin' Hank – the epitome of consistent excellence – still would have more than 3,000 hits.

Of course, Aaron was baseball's career home run king from 1974, when he broke Babe Ruth's long-standing record of 714, until 2007, when Barry Bonds surpassed Aaron by hitting his 756th homer en route to finishing with 762 before retiring that year.

Although Aaron's 755 homers remains a staggering figure, what is especially fascinating about his legendary Hall of Fame career is that he didn't record any of the top 80 individual home run seasons in baseball history.

A player has hit 50 or more homers in a season 46 times, and 48 unique players have clubbed at least 48 homers in a season. However, you won't find Aaron on either one of those lists. That's because the most homers he hit in a season was 47, in 1971.

The 50-homer club does include a Hank, but it's Hank Greenberg; a Hack (Wilson); two Fielders (Cecil Fielder and his son, Prince Fielder); and two current New York Yankees teammates (Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton). New York Mets rookie Pete Alonso hit 53 round-trippers in 2019.

Several less-than-legendary players caught lightning in a bottle to produce a 50-homer season, including Brady Anderson, Jose Bautista, Albert Belle, Chris Davis, George Foster, Luis Gonzalez, Andruw Jones and Greg Vaughn.

Ruth famously blasted 54-plus homers four times, and Aaron's contemporaries Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays exceeded 50 two times each. Also reaching 50 dingers two times apiece were Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey Jr. and Ralph Kiner.

And then there are the many players whose eye-popping home run totals are suspected to have been heavily influenced by the use of performance-enhancing drugs, likely costing them spots in the Hall of Fame.

Bonds hit a mind-numbing 73 homers in 2001, though his next-highest number was the 49 he tallied a year earlier. Mark McGwire put up years with 70, 65, 58, 52 and 49 long balls; Sammy Sosa had seasons with 66, 64, 63, 50 and 49 homers; and the star-crossed career of Alex Rodriguez included seasons with 57, 54, 52 and 48 homers.

And all of these guys have hit more homers (at least 48) in a season than Aaron ever did: Khris Davis, Andre Dawson, Shawn Green, Todd Helton, Frank Howard, Ryan Howard, Dave Kingman, Ted Kluszewski, Jorge Soler, Eugenio Suarez and Larry Walker.

What ended up separating Aaron from other power hitters was the consistency and longevity of his elite performance. He never exceeded 47 homers, yet he produced eight seasons with at least 40 and six of those included 44-plus. He clubbed 30 or more homers in seven other seasons and 20-plus in five other years.

Averaging almost 33 homers per season for 23 years was how Aaron became baseball's all-time home run leader and retained that crown for more than three decades. And considering the unnatural methods Bonds is widely thought to have utilized to surpass Aaron's 755 homers, it's clear why many fans and observers still choose to view the late, great Hammerin' Hank as the national pastime's true home run king.

–– During his 20-year Hall of Fame career with the Houston Astros, Craig Biggio grounded into a double play 150 times. There were nine seasons in which he grounded into at least 10 double plays, including two seasons with 15 DPs.

However, Biggio incredibly did not ground into a double play in the entire 1997 season despite playing in all 162 games and leading the major leagues with 744 plate appearances. Making that feat even more uncanny is the fact that he grounded into 10 double plays in 1996 and another 10 twin killings in 1998.

Although Biggio was a speedy base runner who compiled 414 career stolen bases, he was 31 years old and in his 10th big league season in 1997. And as a right-handed batter, Biggio never had the luxury of swinging from the left side and thus already being a couple steps closer to beating out a potential double-play grounder at first base.

–– Jim Palmer allowed plenty of home runs during his Hall of Fame career as a Baltimore Orioles pitcher – 303, to be exact. Beginning in 1965 and ending in 1984, the three-time American League Cy Young Award winner pitched 3,948 innings in 558 games (521 starts). His career log includes allowing 193 solo homers, 83 two-run shots and 27 three-run blasts.

However, there's one thing that Palmer never permitted while facing 16,114 batters: a grand slam.

It can be debated whether Palmer hada special ability to prevent homers with the bases loaded, or if his zero in the “grand slams allowed” column was some kind of aberration or fluke.

But consider that all of these fellow Hall of Fame pitchers surrendered at least three career grand slams: Bert Blyleven (8), Don Sutton (7), Sandy Koufax (6), Roy Halladay (6), Steve Carlton (5), Jack Morris (5), Randy Johnson (5), Mike Mussina (4), John Smoltz (4), Bob Gibson (3), Tom Seaver (3) and Greg Maddux (3). And what about 354-game winner Roger Clemens? The Rocket gave up six grand salamis.

As an aside, Palmer's Orioles teammate for eight seasons was Hall of Fame slugger Eddie Murray, who was as skilled at hitting grand slams as Palmer was at not allowing them. Murray connected for 19 grand slams, the fourth-highest total in MLB history.

–– Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of baseball's most talented and exciting young players, as evidenced by his fourth-place finish in voting for last season's National League's Most Valuable Player award. This week the 22-year shortstop agreed to an epic contract extension with his San Diego Padres: 14 years and $340 million.

Tatis already has hit 39 home runs in only 143 career games combining the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but he's also already has struck out 171 times. That projects to a 162-game average of 194 strikeouts.

By comparison, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn – the best player in Padres history and a .338 career hitter – struck out only 434 times in 2,440 games and 9,288 at-bats during a 20-season career from 1982-2001. Continuing at his current pace, Tatis would match Mr. Padre's 434 strikeouts in only his 363rd game, likely in 2022 – at the tender age of 23.

#Baseball #MajorLeagueBaseball #MLB #TempleBeltonSports

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Updated: Feb 14


GAME-CHANGING PERFORMANCE: Academy senior shooting guard Jerry Cephus made three 3-point baskets and scored all 13 of his points in the third quarter to help the 17th-ranked Bumblebees turn a 17-17 halftime tie into a 39-28 lead on their way to a 53-32 win over rival Rogers in Friday night's District 19-3A finale at the Eagles' Harley Doggett Gymnasium. Senior guard Jaylin McWilliams scored a game-best 14 points as Academy (17-7) finished 12-0 in district, extending its streak of consecutive league victories to 29 dating to the 2018-19 season. Junior guard Jaxon Craig scored 10 points to lead Rogers (14-11, 9-3), which tied Cameron Yoe for second in 19-3A. The bi-district playoffs are next week. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)



By GREG WILLE

TempleBeltonSports.com

gwille2@hot.rr.com


ROGERS – Academy senior shooting guard Jerry Cephus didn't necessarily have a big overall game against rival Rogers in Friday night's District 19-3A boys basketball finale.

He did, however, produce one huge quarter, and that was sufficient to spark the 17th-ranked Bumblebees to their second consecutive undefeated district championship.

Academy and Rogers entered the second half tied 17-17 after both teams' offenses were as cold as the frigid weather outside Harley Doggett Gymnasium, but the suddenly sizzling Cephus made three 3-point shots and scored all 13 of his points during a game-turning explosion in the third quarter to help the Bees pull away for a 53-32 victory over the Eagles.

“If you miss it, just keep shooting. They're eventually going to fall. Shooters are going to shoot,” Cephus said. “A lot of people miss shots, but if you keep shooting, they're going to eventually start to fall. I caught it and I started feeling it, so I kept shooting and they kept falling.”

Academy fifth-year head coach James Holt said that after his squad struggled to get into a groove against Rogers in the first half, it was the combination of energetic play by his reserve players and the torrid shooting stretch of Cephus that fueled the Bees' 22-point third period and created separation.

“I think Rogers played pretty good defense overall, so they make it tough. We had a lineup there with Jerry and some guys off the bench and they had a lot of energy," Holt said. "They were flying all over the floor defensively, so we got some steals and we got some easy buckets. Sometimes an easy layup leads to confidence shooting 3s, and Jerry got hot.”

Rogers second-year head coach Austen Stolte praised his team's first-half defensive performance but credited Cephus and Academy's offense for finally breaking free during the pivotal third period.

“They started applying some pressure, and the fast break is a little bit different with trying to talk to each other about who we've got. I think we lost him a couple times,” Stolte said of Cephus. “But the times it was halfcourt, I think it was just some good shots. Sometimes we had a hand (up); sometimes he was open. I tell my guys, 'You get a good hand on them, sometimes they're going to knock it down. It's good defense and just a better shot.' That's all a part of the game.”

Senior Jaylin McWilliams scored a game-high 14 points to complement Cephus' 13, senior power forward Tanner Rambeau had 10 points and junior guard Chris Preddie provided eight points along with athletic rebounding and defense as Academy (17-7) finished 12-0 in 19-3A to win the league championship by three games over second-place squads Rogers (14-11, 9-3) and Cameron Yoe (17-5, 9-3).

Academy will play Groesbeck or Teague in a Class 3A bi-district playoff game at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Riesel High School.

Rogers and Yoe, who split their two meetings and swept every district team other than Academy, had a coin flip to determine 19-3A's second and third seeds. The Eagles won the flip and will play 20-3A third-place finisher Crockett at 6 p.m. Friday at Bryan High School. The Yoemen have the No. 3 seed and will play 20-3A runner-up Fairfield at 1 p.m. Saturday at Madisonville High School.


RIVALRY BATTLE: Academy junior guard Chris Preddie takes a 3-point shot over Rogers junior defender Riley Dolgener during the 17th-ranked Bumblebees' 53-32 win against the Eagles on Friday night at Harley Doggett Gymnasium in Rogers. Preddie made two of Academy's five 3-pointers as coach James Holt's Bees completed a 12-0 record against District 19-3A competition. Dolgener scored seven points for coach Austen Stolte's Eagles, who tied Cameron Yoe for second place in the league at 9-3. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)



The Bumblebees, outright winners of last three 19-3A championships, outscored the Eagles 36-15 in the second half as they posted their 29th straight district victory dating to the 2018-19 season. Academy improved to 39-1 against district opponents in the last three seasons.

Junior shooting guard Jaxon Craig made three of Rogers' four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 10 points for the Eagles, who got eight points (all in the second half) from senior forward Ben Hutka and seven (all before halftime) from junior forward Riley Dolgener.

Academy played without one of 19-3A's best players in junior point guard Darion Franklin. Holt said Franklin missed the regular-season finale because of disciplinary reasons but will be back for the Bees' bi-district playoff game next week.

Franklin's absence caused the 6-foot-2 McWilliams – the reigning 19-3A Most Valuable Player – to move from wing to point guard, which might help explain some of Academy's offensive difficulties in the first half as the Bees made only one 3-point shot and didn't attempt a free throw.

“It does change it, because he's so ball-dominant in our offense. He controls bringing the ball up the floor and he gets us into our offense,” Holt said of Franklin, a two-year starter. “And when he's not there, we have guys kind of out of their best positions. Like Jaylin can play the point guard, but he's best on the wing. With (Darion) out, it just changes kind of how we're used to playing.

“But it's like that when Jaylin's out or if Tanner's out. We've had guys out. The good thing is we've got good depth. We've got guys on the bench who would be starters probably on most teams in our district. We've got great depth, and when you have that you can overcome maybe one person not being there, but also you can overcome maybe one person not having a great game because other guys can score.”

Added Cephus: “We usually play fast and I feel like we kept playing fast. It's really 'next man up' with us. If someone's down, it's got to be the next man up. (Franklin) was down, so Jaylin stepped up and played (point) guard and he got the job done. It wasn't as pretty as we wanted it to be, but it was good.”

The first half's tone was set when neither team scored during the opening 3:10 before Rambeau scored inside off a pass from fellow senior Kollin Mraz. McWilliams scored two close-range baskets before Craig made a 3-pointer from the top. Preddie's 3 from the left corner was answered by Dolgener's floater, then McWilliams made a follow-up hoop before Rogers senior center Ty Sebek sank a 17-foot jumper to trim the Eagles' deficit to 11-9 after one quarter.

In a tight, offensively challenged second period, Academy grabbed a 13-11 lead on junior Trae Rambeau's driving basket, but 3-pointers by Dolgener and Craig staked Rogers to a 17-15 advantage. After McWilliams got the roll for a game-tying hoop in the lane, neither team scored in a choppy final 2:40, leaving the game in a 17-17 deadlock at halftime.

“The first half defensively, that's probably one of the best halves I've seen us play this season,” said Stolte, a former player at Mary Hardin-Baylor. “I mean, we preach helping each other on defense and playing as a group of five. Whenever we'd step in and they'd kick it out, we had great closeouts. It just came down to executing basics.”

Said Cephus: “We were killing ourselves with (missed) layups. We could not buy a bucket at all to start. They were playing a lot of pack-line defense and taking away the basket and forcing us to have to shoot (from farther out). Their defense was pretty solid tonight.”

Academy didn't immediately take control after the intermission. Hutka, scoreless in the first half, made a 15-footer and an inside basket to counter Tanner Rambeau's point-blank hoop and Cephus' cutting bucket off an inbound pass. The Bees reclaimed the lead for good when Cephus dished to Tanner Rambeau inside for a 23-21 advantage 1:34 into the third.

McWilliams then barreled through traffic for a difficult basket and a 25-21 lead, leading to a Rogers timeout at the 5:20 mark. It was 28-21 after Preddie made an open 3 from up top, but the Eagles responded with Hutka's 16-footer, junior Kade Sebek's basket while carving across the lane and Craig's left-corner 3 to forge a 28-28 tie before Academy called a timeout with 3:15 remaining.

The rest of the third, though, was the Cephus show. The 5-10 guard made a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 31-28 Bees lead at the 3:06 mark, then scored a left-handed layup off a steal as Academy picked up the pace and began to turn defense into offense. Forty seconds later Cephus made a long 3 from the right side, then he buried an NBA-range 3 from up top to cap his flurry of 13 points in 2 minutes, 8 seconds. Less than 2½ minutes after being tied at 28, the Bees owned a 39-28 lead that they carried into the fourth quarter.

“He'll shoot it deep. When he's got it rolling they look really good, and he got it rolling in the third quarter there,” Holt said of Cephus, a third-year varsity standout who quarterbacked Academy's football team to a playoff berth last fall. “You've got to ride the hot hand sometimes.”

Rogers wasn't yet out of contention with 8 minutes remaining, but Trae Rambeau passed to sophomore Cole Shackelford for a basket and then scored a left-handed putback to make it 43-28. Hutka scored inside with 5:12 left for a 43-31 game, but Rogers didn't make a field goal the rest of the way and committed seven turnovers in the final period as the Bees outscored the Eagles 14-4 in the fourth.

Cephus said Academy takes a lot of pride in its three consecutive outright district championships and is determined to extend its season as long as possible after Crockett eliminated the Bees in the 3A Region III quarterfinals each of the last two seasons.

“It's crazy. This team has a crazy close bond. We just play for each other every night. We just want to keep it running,” Cephus said. “I play every game like it's my last, so I'm going to take it the same and I think everyone else is going to do the same. Hopefully we can go on a big run here in the playoffs.”

Holt said he hopes that Academy runs into Crockett once again “because that would be the regional final. If we play them, I'll be happy," he said.

The Bees could get a third-round showdown with No. 20 Franklin, which won the 20-3A crown with a 14-0 record. Franklin dealt Academy its last district loss, on Feb. 1, 2019.

Holt believes that this battle-tested Bees squad, featuring a “core nucleus” of seniors Cephus, McWilliams, Mraz and Tanner Rambeau plus Tyler Lambert – is well-equipped to produce another extended playoff run.

“I think it's going to be a thing where nothing's going to surprise them, because they've been in those games,” Holt said. “I knew when I got the job (in 2016) and saw these guys play in eighth grade that that group was going to be a successful group. They've played a lot of basketball, they play good basketball, they have good talent and they play together as a team. I knew we could be really good, but you've still got to do it.

“We've had good seniors on some teams and they graduated, guys that kind of laid the foundation of being good leaders. It's just a great group of kids who play for each other, and they have success because they play the right way and they really care about each other."

DISTRICT 19-3A BOYS BASKETBALL

No. 17 Academy 53, Rogers 32

Academy 11 6 22 14 – 53

Rogers 9 8 11 4 – 32

Academy (17-7, 12-0) – Jaylin McWilliams 14, Jerry Cephus 13, Tanner Rambeau 10, Chris Preddie 8, Trae Rambeau 4, Scout Brazeal 2, Cole Shackelford 2.

Rogers (14-11, 9-3) – Jaxon Craig 10, Ben Hutka 8, Riley Dolgener 7, Ty Sebek 4, Kade Sebek 3.

3-point field goals – Academy 5 (Cephus 3, Preddie 2); Rogers 4 (Craig 3, Dolgener 1).

Free throws – Academy 0-4; Rogers 2-9.

Notes – Academy completes its second consecutive undefeated district season and improves to 39-1 in district play in the last three seasons; Academy will play Groesbeck or Teague in a Class 3A bi-district playoff game; Rogers ties Cameron Yoe for second place in 19-3A. Rogers wins coin flip and will play Crockett in bi-district; Yoe gets district's No. 3 seed and will play Fairfield in bi-district.

Junior varsity A – Rogers 48, Academy 44.

Junior varsity B – Academy 44, Rogers 20.

#Academy #AcademyBumblebees #AcademyBasketball #AcademyHighSchool #Rogers #RogersEagles #RogersBasketball #RogersHighSchool #TXHSbasketball #TXHShoops #TempleBeltonSports

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Updated: Feb 14


FIREPOWER IN RESERVE: Temple College freshman guard Elijah Lomas came off the bench to score a team-leading 18 points – 13 in the second half – and help the Leopards defeat Southwestern Christian 93-75 on Wednesday night at TC Gym in Temple's first Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference home game with head coach Clifton Ellis. Five other TC players scored in double figures as the Leopards moved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the NTJCAC entering their home duel with Hill at 4 p.m. Saturday. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)



By GREG WILLE

TempleBeltonSports.com

gwille2@hot.rr.com


Sophomore forward Aleu Aleu is a go-to player for the Temple College men's basketball team. The 6-foot-8 Texas-San Antonio signee produced 20 points and 20 rebounds in the Leopards' conference-opening 83-81 loss at Ranger last Saturday, and the slender Aleu came out hot with eight points in the first 3½ minutes of TC's league home opener Wednesday night against Southwestern Christian College.

The problem for Aleu and the Leopards was that he couldn't stay away from foul trouble. He sat out a large chunk of the first half with two and then three fouls, incurred his fourth foul only 25 seconds into the second half and, after sitting out 6 minutes, fouled out with 11:38 remaining in a game Temple led by just four points at that time.

Fortunately for the Leopards, freshman guards Elijah Lomas and Sherrod Whitley and 6-10 sophomore forward Mawien Mawien were ready and able to pick up the slack in crunch time at TC Gym.

Lomas scored 13 of his team-leading 18 points in the second half, Whitley made all four of his 3-pointers after halftime and Mawien provided an effective interior presence as Temple methodically pulled away from scrappy Southwestern Christian to earn a 93-75 victory.

The Leopards (4-1, 1-1) recorded their first Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference win with first-year head coach Clifton Ellis, the former TC point guard who was hired last April to succeed his college coach Kirby Johnson, who retired after guiding the Leopards for 33 seasons.

“I'm glad that we were able to make some adjustments and that our guys just stuck with it,” Ellis said. “That's good that we were able to win that way.”

Said Lomas: “Coach said in the huddle that we needed to rebound more. That was the key.”

Temple got 12 points apiece from Whitley and sophomore guard Khouri Perkins, 11 from sophomore point guard Tyler Watkins and 10 each from Aleu and Mawien. Watkins led the Leopards with 11 assists, while Perkins and freshman forward Maison Adeleye each dished out seven. Freshman forward Tabarius Jolly grabbed a team-high nine rebounds (seven offensive) and Adeleye and Mawien had seven apiece.


AIR CANADA: Temple College forward Mawien Mawien (32), a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, takes a jump shot over Southwestern Christian defender Jordan Mays during the first half of the host Leopards' 93-75 win over the Rams on Wednesday night at TC Gym. Moving into the lane for Temple is sophomore forward Aleu Aleu (35). Mawien and Aleu scored 10 points each as the Leopards (4-1) improved to 1-1 in conference play. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)



Rugged sophomore forward Cleven Wilson scored 18 of his game-high 27 points in the second half for Southwestern Christian (1-2, 0-2 NTJCAC), whose Rams got 11 points from freshman D'Queveus Adkins and 10 from sophomore Isaiah Wyatt.

Three-point shooting was the biggest discrepancy between the two squads. Temple made eight 3-pointers in the second half and 12 overall while SWCC made only one 3 on the night, giving the Leopards a crucial 33-point advantage in that department. Leading TC's long-range charge were Whitley with four 3-pointers, Lomas with three and Watkins with two.

“Our wing players, we've got a lot of them and a lot of them can shoot the ball. We try to get them to understand that if you take care of the defensive end of the floor and you get in and rebound and take care of the little things, those offensive opportunities will come to you,” Ellis said. “That was a prime example where they stayed active on defense, they got in there and rebounded and they ran the floor. The ball found them and they were ready to score.”

The 6-5 Lomas said bringing energy and scoring punch in a reserve role is something he embraces.

“It doesn't matter if you're starting or if you're coming off the bench. You have to go hard no matter what,” said Lomas, a San Antonio Harlan graduate.

Aleu had the hot hand early. He made a 14-foot jump shot, threw down a powerful two-handed dunk and completed the three-point play and drilled a 3-pointer from the right side to stake the Leopards to a 10-4 lead with 3½ minutes gone. That momentum was short-lived, however, as the resilient Rams ripped off an 11-0 run to go ahead 15-10.

“Maybe there was a little hangover from Saturday, but I think mostly it was Southwestern guarding pretty well and we were helping them out by taking some bad shots and rebounding was an issue,” Ellis said. “When they did miss shots, we just couldn't grab them. But once we grabbed them and our offense got a little better and we were moving the ball and hitting the open man and getting open shots, obviously it made a difference and gave us some energy.”

Temple caught SWCC at 19-19 on a transition 3 by freshman guard Davion Sargent-Young, then Lomas nailed a left-corner 3 and two free throws for a 26-21 Leopards lead 6 minutes before halftime.

Hampered by foul trouble, Aleu didn't score again until his 5-footer in the lane with 3:33 remaining, and he was assessed his third foul in the first half. Perkins and Watkins followed with layups for a 34-25 advantage, then Mawien answered a brief Rams spurt by beating the first-half buzzer with a two-handed jam for a 39-34 Temple lead at intermission.

Ellis said it was challenging to navigate Aleu's playing time through the foul trouble, especially knowing how much his athletic ability and skill can impact the game.

“You're going to have games like this. Last game, he had 20 points and 20 rebounds (at Ranger). He was a presence and he kept us in the game. This game, he didn't play as well and he got in foul trouble. It is (difficult to manage),” Ellis said. “You go to him and say, 'Can I trust you to play with two (fouls)?' He was playing with two for a while and then he had one little deal where he was going for a loose ball and he got a foul. That's the way it is.

“He got his third one, and his fourth one kind of came quick. Then you're saving him and trying to get to a certain point where you can put him back in, but he picked up a couple of cheap fouls.”

Aleu absorbed his fourth foul as Wilson scored on a hard-driving basket 25 seconds into the second half, and Ellis put Aleu on the bench before Wilson completed the three-point play for a 39-39 deadlock. Whitley's first 3-pointer pushed Temple ahead 44-41, but Wyatt led a 7-0 run to put the Rams up 48-44. After 3-pointers by Watkins and Lomas made it 50-50, SWCC took its final lead at 52-50 on a Cory Hicks inside bucket with 14:42 remaining.

An 8-foot floater in the lane by Watkins gave the Leopards the lead for good at 56-54 with 13:40 left, then Aleu came back in with four fouls at the 13:28 mark. Lomas drilled a right-corner 3 to make it 59-54, but soon after that Aleu drove the left side of the lane and was called for charging, fouling out with 11:38 remaining.

“That's part of it. You've got to learn how to play without fouling,” Ellis said of Aleu. “He's an aggressive player.”

After Aleu's exit, Mawien gave Temple a boost as his deft passes set up Adeleye's two free throws and an inside basket by Perkins for a 63-55 lead with 10:19 left. The 270-pound Mawien then bulled in to make a left-handed layin for a 65-58 game.

“I really thought Mawien made a difference for us tonight. Just his presence around the basket defensively forced a couple tough shots,” Ellis said of Mawien, who's from Calgary, Alberta and transferred from Canada's Mount Royal University to TC at the beginning of this semester. “Throwing him the ball in the post, he made some good decisions when he caught it. We've got to have an inside presence.”

Back-to-back baskets by Wilson and Wyatt trimmed Temple's edge to 65-62 at the 7:24 mark, but the Leopards didn't allow the Rams to get any closer. Lomas cut in to score off an inbound pass, then Whitley made a left-corner 3 for a 71-62 game. A minute later, Lomas battled to snare an offensive rebound, made the putback basket off the glass and added the free throw for a 74-64 TC lead with 5:30 remaining.

Two more corner 3-pointers by Whitley wrapped around a Perkins layin off a steal sealed the first conference victory for Ellis and his Leopards.

“Each conference game is tough and is its own little story in itself. That's just the way all 14 of them are,” Ellis said. “This one was ugly but we found a way to win.”

Temple will shoot to move to 2-1 in conference on Saturday when it hosts preseason NTJCAC favorite Hill (5-2, 1-1) at 4 p.m.

“They're a good team and rebounding is always going to be big in conference games,” Ellis said. “If you're rebounding and take care of the ball, you've got a chance. We've got to play up-tempo and get up the floor and score quickly, and then we've just got to keep shoring up the rebounding.”

MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Northern Texas Junior College

Athletic Conference

Temple College 93,

Southwestern Christian College 75

SWCC (1-2, 0-2 NTJCAC) – Cleven Wilson 27, D'Queveus Adkins 11, Isaiah Wyatt 10, Trevon Stewart 9, Cory Hicks 8, Jordan Mays 4, Zelt Minor 4, Dezmond Bradley 2.

Temple (4-1, 1-1 NTJCAC) – Elijah Lomas 18, Khouri Perkins 12, Sherrod Whitley 12, Tyler Watkins 11, Aleu Aleu 10, Mawien Mawien 10, Brandon Monroe 7, Maison Adeleye 6, Davion Sargent-Young 5, Tabarius Jolly 1, Jonathan Joseph 1.

3-point goals – Southwestern Christian 1 (Adkins); Temple 12 (Whitley 4, Lomas 3, Watkins 2, Aleu 1, Monroe 1, Sargent-Young 1).

Free throws – Southwestern Christian 22-32; Temple 15-22.

Halftime score – Temple 39, Southwestern Christian 34.

#TempleCollege #TempleCollegeLeopards #TempleCollegeBasketball #TC #TCLeopards #TCbasketball #TCmen #NTJCAC #JUCObasketball #JUCOhoops #TempleBeltonSports

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