January 2, 2014

Dalton State basketball starts 2014 with victory

By Doug Hawley

— Dalton State College’s high-flying men’s basketball team showed no signs of slowing down Thursday afternoon as it began the 2014 portion of the schedule with an impressive win over visiting Reinhardt University at the trade center.

“Our main goal was to play two good halves,” Roadrunners’ head coach Tony Ingle said after his squad’s 98-75 victory over the Eagles from Waleska. “We were able to do that.”

In the process, Dalton State improved its overall regular season record to 15-1 with their 11th straight win.

“They’re really good,” Reinhardt coach Jason Gillespie said of the Roadrunners. “I’m not surprised. We didn’t play that well. They had a lot to do with it.”

Dalton State scored the game’s first six points and never trailed against the Eagles, who dropped to 7-7. Dalton State led by 24, 44-20, with 4:55 left until halftime.

By intermission, the Roadrunners held a 49-30 cushion.

Erich Allen, a 6-7, 225-pound post, and guard Anthony Hilliard came off the bench to lead Dalton’s attack in the first half with 11 points apiece. Each finished with 16 points.

“This was only my fourth game,” said Allen, a sophomore who transferred from Montreat College (Montreat, N.C.). “It has taken a couple of games to get my feet wet. I like coming off the bench. I really love it here.”

Ingle obviously has appreciated Allen’s addition.

“We need Erich’s post presence,” the coach said. “He provides some help inside for Raheem (Mosley). He also can move outside and score.”

Hilliard has split time as a starter and coming off the bench.

“It doesn’t make any difference to me,” Hilliard said. “It’s whatever the team needs.”

Ingle lauded his unselfish attitude.

“Anthony is an unsung hero,” Ingle said. “He genuinely does whatever is best for the team.”

Ricky Sears, a guard who entered the game as Dalton State’s top scorer at 16.7 points per game, scored seven points in the first half.

After warming to the task, he added 17 more to finish with a game-high 24.

“It just took a while for me to get going,” Sears said. “Then the shots started falling.”

Sears connected on 10-of-15 shots, including 3-of-4 3-pointers. The senior also shared the game’s high in rebounds with teammate Demetrice Jacobs, who grabbed six boards.

“Ricky came through with some big shots in the second half,” Ingle said. “He’s hard to hold down.”

Jacobs also provided double-figure scoring help with 12 points.

Dalton State shot 48.6 percent from the field (36-of-74). Its customary tough defense limited Reinhardt to 43.9 percent (29-of-66).

After canning 9-of-10 free throws in the first half, the Roadrunners dropped to 9-of-19 after intermission for 18-of-29 overall.

In the rebounding department, Dalton had a 46-36 advantage.

During the second half, the Roadrunners’ advantage reached 29 points several times — the last occasion, 80-51, with 9:55 remaining.

Quinton Wood paced the Eagles with 14 points. Wayne Swint contributed 14 and Luke Joseph 10.

“We have put closure on this game,” Ingle said. “We have to get ready in a hurry for a big one.”

Faulkner State, the No. 17 nationally-ranked team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, travels from Montgomery, Ala., and pays a 4 p.m. visit Saturday to the trade center. Faulkner State also is in the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC), which Dalton State received approval to join and will do so for the 2014-2015 school year.

“They won the national championship about six years ago,” Ingle said.

“They have a national championship-caliber team this year. They won the (SSAC) championship last year, the conference that we will be in next year. They have most of their players back with seven seniors. We can use all of the fan support we can muster.”

Dalton’s game Monday against Spring Hill (Mobile, Ala.) has been changed to 5:30 p.m. It will give spectators time to watch the BCS national championship football game between Auburn and Florida State at 8:30 p.m., according to school officials.