By Jake Pommerer
This holiday weekend the NAIA will have their own version of the Maui Invitational with the first annual Battle at the Beach, hosted in Panama City, Florida by Faulkner University, and Gulf Coast State.
- NAIA DI #11 LSU-Alexandria (LA) – The Generals are currently 5-2 and on a two-game losing streak entering the tournament. LSU-A was ranked 6th in the NAIA Division I pre-season poll, but after back to back losses, they now currently sit at #11 in the country. Chris Vickers leads LSU-A in both points and rebounds with 13.77 points and 9.33 rebounds per game.
- NAIA DI #13 Talladega (AL) – The Tornadoes are currently 8-1 with their lone loss coming at the hands of another Battle at the Beach participant, LSU-A. Talladega also has a win over a tournament competitor in Carver College. The Tornadoes were ranked 8th in the NAIA Division I preseason poll, but fell to 13th position in the recent poll. Darryl Baker leads all scorers entering the tournament with 19.89 PPG.
- Voorhees (SC) –The Tigers will enter the tournament at 5-5. The Tigers were ranked 20th in the NAIA Division II preseason poll, but are no longer ranked in the NAIA DII Top 25.. Adonis Bailey leads four Tiger players in double figures with 12.38 PPG
- Thomas (GA) -The Nighthawks enter the tournament 3-5 overall and 1-2 in Sun Conference play. Joshua Scott is Thomas’s leading scorer with. 16 PPG coming off the bench.
- Lindsey Wilson (KY) -The Blue Raiders are 6-2 overall. Reece Brooks leads Lindsey Wilson with 18.5 PPG and 6.13 assists per game which is the most of anyone in the tournament.
- Carver (GA) -The Cougars are an NCCAA school and are currently 1-9 but have played a very difficult schedule including six teams that were in the NAIA Division I preseason poll. Rayford Washington leads Carver in scoring with 13.63 PPG.
- Valley City (ND) – The Vikings enter the tournament 0-7. Logan Nelson leads VCSU with 13.71 PPG off the bench.
- Faulkner (AL) -The Eagles are 6-2 overall and 1-1 in Southern States Conference play. The Eagles are led in scoring by CJ Williamson 14.86 PPG. Faulkner will also serve as the host team.
First Round Games
Valley City State vs LSU-Alexandria. Friday November 29th 12:30pm EST
Valley City State is looking for their first win of the season and LSU-A is looking to end a two-game losing streak. A tale of two totally different styles of play, The Vikings will look to slow the game down, while the Generals want to play fast. VCSU does have a win in an exhibition contest over NCAA Division II Minot State so they have proven they can beat good competition. Chris Vickers is the player to watch for LSU-A as he leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Kevin Schram will be the player to watch for Valley City State. Schram is a stretch forward that is averaging 12.1 PPG while shooting 49% from the field and 45% from behind the arc. The winner will face the winner of the Faulkner vs Carver game.
Lindsey Wilson vs Thomas Friday November 29th 2:45pm EST
This game will be another battle of two different styles. Lindsey Wilson averages 91 PPG and Thomas averages 68. I personally have watched Thomas play a few times and they and they seem to want to get shots off as close to the hoop as they can. They do a good job of getting their guards off screens and downhill to the rim, but they also will feed their post players who will play physical down low. Lindsey Wilson seems to rely on the long ball a little more with three players shooting above 40% from the 3-point line. The players to watch in this game for me will be Reece Brooks for Lindsey Wilson who is averaging 18.5PPG and shooting 45% from beyond the arc. For Thomas it will be Jamal Scott who leads the Nighthawks in scoring while coming off the bench with 16 PPG. The winner of this game will play the winner of Talladega vs Voorhees.
Carver vs Faulkner Friday November 29th 5:00pm EST
The Faulkner Eagles are looking to make a deep run in their own tournament while the Carver Cougars are looking to get on the winning track. Faulkner is off to a good start at 6-2 and look to continue that success this weekend. Don’t let Carver’s 1-8 record fool you they have battled with some really good NAIA teams so far this season. Nate Bradley will be my player to watch for Faulkner, the senior is off to a great start averaging 10.88 PPG. Antonio Gardner will be my player to watch for Carver. Looking over his stats you’ll see that he gets it done in all facets of the game. The winner of this game will play the winner of LSU-A vs Valley City.
Talladega vs Voorhees Friday November 29th 7:15pm EST
A game that will likely be fast paced Talladega scores 93 PPG and Voorhees averages 85 PPG. I have had the chance to see Voorhees play and they want to get out and go. I’m willing to bet this game turns into a track meet. Alex Brooks will be my player to watch for Vorhees a quick guard averaging 11.9 PPG. Darryl Baker will be my player to watch for Talladega as he enters the tournament as the leading scorer averaging 19.9 PPG. The winner of this game will play the winner of Lindsey Wilson vs Thomas.