|Monty Brown gave Mercer|
By DANIEL SHIRLEY
The Mercer Bears have many weapons in their lineup, and they have plenty of balance.
They also have something that many teams do not: two big men in the middle who can cause plenty of damage.
Daniel Coursey and Monty Brown did just that against Lipscomb in the first round of the 2013 General Shale A-Sun Basketball Championship Wednesday night at Mercer’s Hawkins Arena.
With Coursey and Brown clogging up the middle, the Bears rolled to an 82-48 win. They will play the winner of Thursday’s Jacksonville/USC Upstate game in the semifinals on Friday.
“They tell us all the time that we’re their secret weapon,” Coursey said. “Whenever we play good, we win, so we just have to play good. That was a huge win – we really needed that one. At the beginning, they came out and were playing tough, but our guards were hitting shots, hitting their threes, and they got it done.”
The two big men certainly did their part, as well.
Coursey finished with eight points and five rebounds, while Brown came off the bench to provide a spark with 11 points. Brown connected on all of his shots – hitting 4-of-4 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the foul line.
Coursey was almost perfect, hitting 2-of-3 shots from the floor and 4-of-4 from the foul line.
“I credit my points to my teammates coming off the bench and trying to provide a spark,” Brown said. “It’s really big having a team full of guys coming off the bench. Anyone can have a big night any night.
“It’s exciting to have another guy the same height and same build. (Coursey is) more athletic than I am, but it’s nice to be able to come in one after another and get breaks for each other and still have the same kind of production as the other person.”
The Bears will be off Thursday as they prepare for the semifinals. That day of rest could be a big bonus for the team leading up to Friday.
“It gives our starters a chance to sit a little bit and get some rest and give our bench guys a little bit of rest,” Brown said of the day off. “We might get some work in (Thursday) morning. But it’s big for our starters to get some rest and get off their legs.”
Now the Bears can focus solely on their semifinal contest. The Bears lost to Florida Gulf Coast in the semifinals last year at Hawkins Arena, and that loss has been a motivating factor this entire season.
“That was incredibly disappointing last year; that’s all we can think about,” Coursey said. “We’re taking this tournament very seriously. We’re staying in a hotel, and we’re not allowed to talk to anybody. Basically we’re in jail right now. But that’s good. We can keep our focus.”