MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. – Newberry’s first year head coach Shaun Golden celebrated his first win at the helm of the Indians Friday night in style, defeating the Lees-McRae Bobcats 73-65 in the first round of the Mt. Olive Pickle Classic. Newberry improves to 1-1 after spoiling the season opener for Lees-McRae (0-1). The Indians move on to the championship game Saturday where they will face the host school Mt. Olive.
Leading the Indian charge this night was 2004-05 South Atlantic Conference second-teamer Tommy Burke (Newberry, S.C.), as he led four players in double figures with 16 points. Burke went 4-for-8 beyond the three point-arch, hitting several key shots down the stretch. But it was a familiar name to Newberry sports fans, making his season debut that triggered a late run to seal the victory for Newberry.
Both teams came out fighting early, but Lees-McRae was able to build leads as big as six points in the first half. Newberry was able to erase the deficit and build the lead to as many as five points. Bobcat forward Shawn Zellers’ (Largo, Ind.) three-pointer with less than a minute left pulled Lees-McRae within 39-37 at halftime.
Newberry built the lead back up to six points early in the second half but consecutive three-pointers by Bobcats Aaron Dugger (Elizabethton, Tenn.) and Antwon Brown (Gary, Ind.) tied the game at 57-57 with 4:18 remaining. That’s when Newberry football star and basketball forward Tymere Zimmerman (Bennettsville, S.C.) got in the game. With game tied, Zimmerman fought for a rebound in the paint, winning the board and putting it through the net to give the Indians the lead. Zimmerman’s shot triggered a 7-0 run and Newberry recaptured the lead for good. Lees-McRae got the score within four, but Michael Dease (Bennettsville, S.C.) hit a pair of free throws late as the Indians sealed the win at the line.
Dease finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for Newberry. Indian forward Eric Nwawel (Cameroon, Africa) continued his impressive debut season, contributing 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior Elijah Frasier (Irmo, S.C.) added 10 points.
Newberry takes on Mount Olive in the championship game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The host-school Trojans have won the last four Pickle Classics.