When the Berry College men’s basketball team steps onto the court, head coach Mitch Cole knows he has several players he can count on when the action gets underway.
A group mentality, according to Cole, has helped lead the Vikings to a successful season so far as the Vikings are riding a seven-game winning streak.
While there are some players who have helped spark the team, Cole says the Vikings really thrive as a unit.
“It’s a little bit of everybody each night,” the second-year coach said. “One of the valuable things about having depth is if one guy is not on, another guy can come in and fill his shoes.”
The most recent win in the Vikings’ streak was an 84-55 victory Monday against St. Joseph’s in the Holiday Inn Express Classic in Atlanta.
Berry’s depth was on display in the win as the majority of the teams’ points were scored off the bench.
Riley Costas led the team with 15 points, D.J. Estes scored 11 points, and Austin Brooks scored 10. Dawson Wehunt was the only starter to score in double-digits with 11 points.
Berry (10-2) faces only Southern Athletic Association foes from now until the end of the regular season. The Vikings host a pair of conference games this week facing Rhodes on Friday and Hendrix on Sunday at the Cage Center.
Last season, Berry and Centre were the top two teams in the conference, but this season Cole says the SAA is up for grabs by any team.
“There’s a lot of good teams,” Cole said. “Everybody is capable of beating everybody. There’s Millsaps and Hendrix that have really improved and have some really good players. It’s going to be a really equal conference. We’re just focusing on improving and winning that next game. We’ll try to be on top when it’s all said and done.”
While the Vikings have some experienced players like Caleb Haynes, who leads the team with 13.6 points per game, Cole said his team has 10 new players on the roster this season who are stepping up to a high level of competition. Newcomers Estes and Micah Johnson are averaging 10.3 and 10 points per game, respectively.
“It’s just a good-balanced team filled with guys that compete every day, because there’s good guys throughout the roster, so they need to be on their toes,” Cole said. “They’ve really bought in, and there’s been a lot of competition at practice, which has carried over into the games. We’re just improving weekly.”
Berry’s only two losses so far this season were to ranked teams — Emory and Guillford, ranked sixth and 19th, respectively, when the games were played.
The Berry women are 0-1 in conference play and dropped their second straight game Monday against Emory on the road in a 60-41 loss.
Eveline Parsons led the Vikings (6-6) with 12 points, and Jana Morning scored 10.
Berry’s women will also play Rhodes and Hendrix on Friday and Sunday, respectively.
GHC men prepare for conference play
Georgia Highlands’ men face their first Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association action of the season when they take their six-game winning streak into a pair of home conference games. The Chargers (9-4) face Andrew College on Thursday and Southern Crescent Tech on Saturday.
The GHC women are well into conference play with a 5-1 record and are in second place in the GCAA standings.
They host Southern Crescent Tech on Saturday after snapping a five-game winning streak with losses Sunday and Monday at South Georgia Tech’s Lady Jets Holiday Classic. GHC (9-7) was defeated Sunday 107-73 by Shelton State and lost Monday to Eastern Florida State, 84-77.
Shorter trying to find its way
Shorter University’s teams both are on the road for a pair of Gulf South Conference games this week as they continue to try to find a rhythm.
Shorter travels to face Delta State on Thursday and Mississippi College on Saturday. The men (3-8) and women (0-8) are both 0-3 in conference play.