By Chris Whitfield
Two hours before tipoff Monday afternoon, Dalton State College men’s basketball coach Tony Ingle got a gift.
Two hours after tipoff, that gift had helped win the game in a big way.
Tyrel Edwards, who has attended three other colleges and been part of four basketball programs, was declared eligible Monday afternoon and immediately made an impact. Edwards scored a team-high 16 points, four other players reached double digits and the Roadrunners made 9 of 12 free throws in the final three minutes of the game to hold off Spring Hill University 74-69 at the trade center.
“It felt great to finally be back out there,” said Edwards, a 6-foot, 5-inch junior forward. “I haven’t been on a court in about a year, and to finally get to play with my family felt great. These guys are like family to me, and I was just happy to get a chance to help out.”
Edwards last played a game in 2012 for Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. He had transferred to Campbellsville University in Kentucky over the summer, but ended up at Dalton State. He originally played for Indiana’s Vincennes University. He then attended Olney Central College in Illinois but did not play basketball before going to Canisius.
“The unsung heroes in all of this were (assistant coach) John Redman, (associate athletic director) Richard Skeel and (faculty athletic representative) Tom Veve to certify everything and make sure he was eligible,” Ingle said. “Trying to get transcripts from all of those colleges and the fact that he is Canadian made it all the more tough. They all went the extra mile to get him on the floor finally.”
It was worth the wait as the Roadrunners improved to 17-1. However, they struggled with a Spring Hill team that fell to 1-11.
Dalton State trailed 34-33 at the half before outscoring Spring Hill 41-35 in the second half. Along with Edwards, point guard Sean Tate, who hit all four of his free throws in that late stretch, finished with 15. Erich Allen, Preston Earle and Ricky Sears each had 10 points. But it was Edwards who stole the show.
“He hit some big baskets, and I think that the fans are going to like the way he plays,” Ingle said. “It looked like he has been playing with us all year long.”