HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Wallace State’s 15th-ranked basketball team has won multiple ways during the 2015-16 season, prevailing in both shootouts or defensive slugfests.
It has led to the Lions earning their second Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) regular season championship in the past three seasons under coach John Meeks. Wallace State clinched the title and the ACCC North Division’s top seed on Wednesday after a gritty 56-54 road victory over Snead State and a Marion Military Institute loss at Shelton State.
Wallace State (25-5) closed the regular season winning 17 of 20 games and finished with a 10-2 record in conference play – the best league mark under Meeks in his six seasons in Hanceville. Additionally, the Lions have lost only twice since January and are 12-1 at Tom Drake Coliseum.
“This team has been a lot of fun to coach. We have a lot of enjoyable guys to be around, and they’ve taken pride in being the best they can be since the first day of practice. The regular season championship is a representation of the team’s desire to win this season and how much they hate to lose,” Meeks said. “We have fought through a lot of injuries and adversity. I’m amazed we’re 25-5 because of the things we’ve battled through. We have a group that believes in each other and picks each other up. They’re also good people, and that’s important to me.”
The postseason now awaits the Wallace State men. The Lions are three wins away from earning the program’s third conference title in five seasons under Meeks. Wallace State won the ACCC tournament as No. 6 seed in 2012 and the 2014 title as a No. 1 seed.
The ACCC postseason begins today with four women’s play-in games. Wallace State’s women (11-19) travel to Chattahoochee Valley for a first-round game.
Once the play-in games are complete over the weekend, Wallace State will host the ACCC Tournament at Tom Drake Coliseum beginning Tuesday at 1 p.m. Tuesday’s slate consists of four women’s games, and Wednesday’s schedule features four men’s games.
Wallace State’s men play Wednesday at 1 p.m. against the Alabama Southern-Lawson State winner.
The women’s championship game is set for Friday, March 4 at 4 p.m. and the men’s championship game will follow at 6 p.m.
Wallace State’s men average nearly 70 points per game as a group and have allowed only three opponents to score more than 70 points in a single game.
“As good as we can be on offense at times, we’ve said all season we have to pride ourselves on defense. There are some nights when a team is going to take us out of what we want to do and we don’t hit shots. The one constant you have to have is solid defense. That should never go into a slump,” Meeks said.
Wallace State has also peppered opponents with a balanced scoring attack. Six Lions average at least seven points or more. Marcus Barham averages a team-high 12 points per game, Derylton Hill averages 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds and Immanuel King 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Point guard Xavier Mills scores 7.6 points per game and has compiled a team-high 132 assists. Kylen Butler and freshman Jaylen McCoy also average seven or more points.
In Wallace State’s six conference games in February, the Lions had a different leading scorer each night, including 20+-point outbursts from sophomores Tyrell Clary and Darren Williams off the bench.
“When one guy is having an off night, another seems to be there to pick up the slack offensively. That’s the mark of a good team. We may not have a three-headed scoring juggernaut like we did two years ago, but we definitely have more balance and consistency across the board,” Meeks said.
Wallace State’s men won the tournament on their home floor two seasons ago. The Lions only home loss this season was in November to South Georgia Technical College.
“We wanted to make our court a tough place to play on both ends this season, and I believe we’ve done that. We need to do it for three more games,” Meeks said.
General admission to the tournament is $7 daily. Children under the age of 6 and Wallace State students are admitted free. Tickets are $5 for senior citizens and for students from other community colleges.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit http://athletics.wallacestate.edu/
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu