BELMONT, N.C. – King won the inaugural Conference Carolinas men’s basketball developmental championship, 99-89, over Barton at Belmont Abbey on Monday night.
The event, which is a unique championship opportunity for developmental teams within Conference Carolinas, consisted of a preliminary round at King and Barton on Jan. 31 with the winners of each preliminary round playing in the championship at Belmont Abbey.
King defeated Erskine 71-59 and Emmanuel 82-78 to reach the title game while Barton defeated Belmont Abbey (84-59), Francis Marion (85-65) and Mount Olive (69-57) to reach the championship.
The Bulldogs took an early lead in the first half, 14-7, and led until King took a 24-23 lead. Barton responded by building the lead back to six, 43-37 with 3:46 to play in the half. However, the Tornado closed the half on a 12-6 run to tie the score at 49 at the break. There were 10 ties and 15 lead changes in the opening period as each team shot better than 50 percent from the field and 3-point range while King held a slight 12-11 advantage on the boards.
It was a back-and-forth second half that saw several more lead changes and ties, before a Henry Okoye layup for the Tornado gave the visitors a 72-71 lead that they never relinquished. The layup sparked a 12-2 run for King as they pushed the lead to a game-high nine points, 82-73. An Isaiah Williams three-pointer broke the run and sparked an 8-0 rally for the Bulldogs to cut the margin to one, 82-81, but back-to-back layups by Zach Grodziki pushed the lead back to five for King and they never trailed again in the win.
Grodziki led all scorers with 27 points and 11 rebounds for the Tornado while Amarius Beasley added 18 points and grabbed five rounds with four assists. Dami Farinloye finished with 13 points with four rebounds and four assists.
Barton had three players finish with 20-plus points led by Williams with 23.
Farinloye was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
More information can be found on the tournament webpage here.
Earlier this fall Conference Carolinas announced that a developmental championship will be held in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s basketball and baseball. The developmental teams will be composed of student-athletes that have either not competed at the varsity level in 2021-22 or have competed sparingly at the varsity level by the time of the championship.