Peru State opens national tournament with William Carey Thursday night

PERU – It will be a fourth seed versus a fifth seed in the Cramer bracket of the upcoming 2019 NAIA DI Men’s Basketball Championship held in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday night.

The fourth-seeded William Carey (Miss.) Crusaders will take on the fifth-seeded Peru State Bobcats at 5:45 in the historic Municipal Auditorium. William Carey finished ranked 14th in the final NAIA DI MBB Coaches’ Top 25 Poll while the Bobcats finished 19th.

The teams will take similar overall records into the tournament as William Carey finished the season 22-9 while the ‘Cats finished 23-10.

The Crusaders are led in scoring Leito Holloway who is averaging 12.0 points per game (ppg). They have four other players who are in double figures in scoring: Adrian Jackson – 11.8 ppg, Branden Sheppard – 11.6 ppg, Brandon Cranford – 11.7 ppg, and Cameron Douglas – 11.4 ppg.

Sheppard leads William Carey in rebounding grabbing 8.90 boards per contest. Rodney Mallet averages 3.17 assists per game while Adrian Williams nabs 1.57 steals per contest. Sheppard is also the team’s leading shot blocker as he averages 1.59 swats per contest.

William Carey has 19 Top 50 team rankings going into the national tournament. Their top marks are fifth in turnover margin (3.613), 25th in field goal percentage (0.468), 25th in scoring defense per game (72.484), 28th in three-point field goal percentage (0.364), and 28th in total steals (229).

The Crusaders are part of the Southern States Athletic Conference and finished tied with Stillman (Ala.) for the regular-season title as both teams finished 18-4. Stillman is also in the tournament and earned a second seed.

William Carey is appearing in its 13th appearance overall and fourth-straight in the tournament.

Peru State is making their 16th trip overall and second-straight in the national tournament.

The Bobcats earned an automatic bid after claiming the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) Postseason Championship with a win over Benedictine (Kan.) – a number one seed in the tourney.

The ‘Cats have three players scoring in double figures with two more just on the cusp of double figures. Lyle Hexom (Omaha), the Heart Player of the Year, leads the team averaging 20.6 ppg. Brandon Jones (Houston) averages 16.2 ppg while KeShawn Wilson (Lincoln) is at 10.5 ppg. Jamil Maddred (Camden, N.J.) is adding 9.4 ppg while Terry Moore Jr. (Kansas City, Kan.) contributes 8.0 ppg.

Hexom and Jones are also the team’s leading rebounder averaging 10.3 and 8.8 boards respectively per contest. Jones leads the team in assists and steals. He is dishing out 3.6 dimes per contest and is nabbing 1.57 balls per game. Hexom is the team’s leading shot blocker averaging 2.42 a game.

The Bobcats are listed in 22 Top 50 team rankings heading into the national tourney. Their top 20 rankings include: fourth in total blocks (149), fourth in total three-point field goals made (340), seventh in blocks per game (4.515), tenth in total offensive rebounds (1,309), 13th in three-point field goals made per game (10.303), 15th in total scoring offense (2,703), 16th in total assists (494), 18th in total defensive rebounds per game (32.939), 20th in total rebound margin (6.727), and 20th in three-point field goal percentage (0.374).

Individually, Hexom, Jones, and Wilson are among the top individuals in the top 50 categories. Some of Hexom’s top marks are: first in total scoring (681), second in total three-point field goals made (106), third in total blocks (80), third in blocks per game (2.424), fourth in total rebounds (340), fifth in three-point field goals made per game (3.212), fifth in defensive rebounds per game (8.152), and fifth total rebounds per game (10.303).

Jones is ninth in offensive rebounds per game (3.233) 13th in total rebounds per game (8.800), 17th in total rebounds (264), 35th in field goal percentage (0.532), and 35th in defensive rebounds per game (5.567).

Wilson’s top mark is 25th in assist/turnover ratio (2.324). Additionally, Wilson is listed at 42nd in three-point field goal percentage (0.423) and 50th in total three-point field goals made (71).

The winner Thursday night will face the winner between number one seed Tougaloo (Miss.) and number eight seed Mid-America Christian (Okla.) at 5:45 p.m. on Friday night. Tougaloo finished the season 28-4 while Mid-America Christian had a 20-12 mark.

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