It was a record setting night for the Central Christian College men's basketball team. As a team, the Tigers set a new season high in points defeating the Crowley's Ridge Pioneers 121-72. It was also a special night as senior Mike Gholston became the Tigers all-time leading scorer.
Gholston, who had 28 points in the win over KWU on Tuesday night, needed just 26 points to reach 1,648 points and set a new individual scoring mark. The previous mark of 1,647 was set by Chris Jones back in 2012-2013. With his teammates eager to help him reach this milestone in front of the home crowd, the Tigers came out and played some inspired basketball.
Picking up where they left off on Tuesday, the Tigers shot 59 percent from the floor, and knocked down 9 of 17 shots from behind the three point line to race out to a 30 point lead at halftime, 66-36. Gholston was understandably nervous in the first few minutes. After missing his first field goal attempt, he calmed down and went on to score 18 points in the half, and headed into the break needing just eight points to secure the record.
In the second half, the Tigers didn't let up. They continued to play solid on the defensive end, and unselfishly on the offensive end. Several times the Tiger shooters turned down good looks to find a teammate with a better one. Also they wanted to see Gholston get the record so they did what they could to feed him the ball. A little over seven minutes into the final half, the record finally was broken, though it was somewhat anti-climactic.
Everyone may have been expecting Gholston to break the mark on one of his picture perfect 3-point strokes, or at least by driving to basket and making a layup. Instead, at the 12:15 mark, he was fouled. He made both free throws tying the mark set by Jones. Thirty seconds later he was fouled again, knocked down two more free throws to set a new mark of 1,649. After the first free throw, head coach Tony Romero called timeout and it was announced to the crowd that he was the new all-time scorer at CCC. The crowd gave him a standing ovation while his teammates congratulated him at the bench. After the timeout he made the second attempt, was subbed out, and his night was through.
The Tigers weren't as offensively prolific in the second half, shooting just 48 percent from the floor, but most of the half was played with the starters on the bench. For the game CCC shot 55 percent from both the field and beyond the arc. More impressively, they held a Crowley's Ridge team that was capable of scoring a bunch of points to just 32 percent shooting for the game.
"We have been struggling starting out the gate the last two games, we wanted to make sure we were getting better there,” Romero said. “I was pleased with our focus and grit from go tonight. A lot of positives, everyone contributed, we moved the ball very well — 28 assists on 41 made baskets. The last two games, we have shot the ball at a high percentage but it's because we have the ball popping around now, we are cutting and screening much better. Defensively, the last two games we felt we have given up way too many uncontested shots and allowed teams to get out and run on us a little bit, tonight we did much better contesting and limiting those easy baskets. We are getting better heading into conference and that's the direction we want to be going.
"This night belonged to Mike though" continued Romero. "I was proud of the way our guys rallied around him and wanting to see him break the scoring record. Mike has been a very special player for us, I have been blessed to coach him the last four years and see him grow and mature as a player but more importantly as a person. Players like him make us coaches look like we know what we are doing. Mike himself would be the first to credit his team mates for finding him over the last four years and putting him in position to help the team. His work ethic is special and he is a great team mate. So happy for him and his teammates tonight.”
Six Tigers scored in double figures led by Gholston's 27. Steve Kuminga had a career high 22 points and was huge on the glass with 13 boards for his first career double double. Jubril Osagie also had another double double with 17 points and 12 boards. Daniel Nwosuh continued his hot play with 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting and 4 of 5 3-pointers. Ernest Burton and LeDarius Lenard rounded out the double digit scorers, each chipping in 12 on the night.
Next up for the Tigers is a road trip to Joplin, Missouri on Tuesday for a match up with the Ozark Christian College Ambassadors.